Women in Catalonia can now take abortion pills up to week 14 of pregnancy 

Authorities celebrate increase in number of centers providing service but say more must be done

Catalan health minister Josep Maria Argimon during a speech announcing the new abortion protocol on September 28, 2022
Catalan health minister Josep Maria Argimon during a speech announcing the new abortion protocol on September 28, 2022 / Jan Téllez
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

September 28, 2022 07:50 PM

Women seeking to terminate their pregnancy in Catalonia can now take abortion pills up to week 14 of gestation, as was announced by the Catalan health department on Wednesday.

Until now, women could only take abortion pills until week 9, after which they had to opt for surgical termination, but with the new change, health authorities hope to provide them with more care options.

The announcement coincided with International Safe Abortion Day, September 28, and while the government celebrates the new protocol, Catalan health minister Josep Maria Argimon acknowledged more needs to be done to help women who wish to terminate a pregnancy.

According to the minister, the vast majority of these improvements must center around access to medical centers providing this kind of treatment, one of the most concerning problems since 2010, when the public care system began offering this treatment which was legalized in Spain in 1985. There are still notable disparities between Barcelona and other especially rural areas, where more doctors are conscientious objectors.

However, Argimon explained that in the last months the number of medical centers where women can terminate a pregnancy has increased. Now, according to him, residents in Lleida, Berga, Manresa, and Tortosa can undergo surgical abortions in these cities, while people in Tremp, la Seu d'Urgell, Puigcerdà, and Vielha can now request an abortion pill.

In fact, proximity to health centers where this service is provided "is much higher in Catalonia than in other parts of Spain," the health minister said before adding that it "does not mean we cannot improve a lot."

With the new protocol in place, the equality and health departments will start an information campaign across Catalan hospitals and health centers to inform people they can request the abortion pill if they so wish. This method, "consists of using two different medicines called mifepristone and misoprostol to end a pregnancy," as Planned Parenthood Federation of America, sexual and reproductive health care provided, reports.

In Catalonia, the treatment will continue to be offered in primary health care centers until the ninth week of gestation and in hospitals until the 14th week.

57% of women who had an abortion before the 10th week of pregnancy took an abortion pill, while in 2010, only 0.56% did.

When the abortion was done in the 10th week of gestation, only 12% took the pill.

Andorran women abort in Catalonia

Abortion is illegal in the Pyrenean microstate of Andorra located between Catalonia and France. The territory’s 1993 Constitution states that it “recognizes the right to life and fully protects it in its different phases,” while the 2005 Penal Code speaks of “crimes against prenatal life” and establishes that women that have abortions can be arrested while doctors can face up to 3-year sentences and be disqualified for up to five years.

Why do Andorran women travel to Catalonia for abortions?

Because abortion is illegal in the country, many women who are able to take off time from work and fund their expenses end up traveling to Catalan and French hospitals to have the procedure done

Official figures from 2017 show that 107 Andorran women had abortions at public hospitals in Catalonia, but there are no known figures of how many had the procedure done at private hospitals or in France in both public and private clinics.