General

Spanish region backtracks on far-right anti-abortion protocol

The center-right president of Spain's central region of Castile and Leon contradicted his far-right vice president on Monday, announcing that there would be no change in protocols for pregnant women seeking abortion in the region.

"We will not force doctors to do anything and we will not force pregnant women to do anything," President Alfonso Fernandez Manueco, who belongs to the conservative Popular Party, said in a speech.

His comments came just hours after his vice president Juan Garcia-Gallardo re-confirmed what he announced last week: That doctors in the region would be obliged to offer women seeking an abortion the options of listening to the fetal heartbeat, seeing a 4D ultrasound and getting psychological help.

"I really like what the Hungarian government is doing on this subject because they offer alternatives, information, and positive measures so pregnant women can make the most informed choices possible," Garcia-Gallard told reporters.

The far-right Vox politician announced the controversial new protocol on Thursday, saying: "If just one child that was going to be aborted is born, that would make all the negative consequences of participating in the government worth it."

The current government of Castile and Leon is the first and only Spanish regional government coalition that includes the far-right party Vox.

The new "pro-life" measures were expected to take effect on Monday in the region, but Spain's central government also promised legal challenges.

Changes to the pregnancy protocol have not been received by hospitals in Castile and Leon or published in the official state gazette, according to the Spanish daily El Pais.

"Even today, no one knows what the measures are in Castile and Leon ... but even so, we will not allow a single step back in terms of women's rights," said Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias on Monday in an interview with broadcaster Cadena Ser. She underlined that what Vox announced "goes against the law and exists to make women feel guilty."

Meanwhile, Manueco is trying to strike a balance between pushing back against the far-right and the progressive government in Madrid as the country gears up for a major election year.

"We have not contemplated offering coercive measures to pregnant women, and we will not accept the central government using women to gain political points," said Manueco.

Source: Anadolu Agency