MADRID The Spanish Parliament finally approved a law this Thursday, the 16th, to allow female workers suffering from painful menstrual cycles to take one “menstrual leave”a pioneering measure in the Europe which, according to the leftwing government, is trying to break taboos. The legislators v Spain also passed a law that expand abortion and the Transgender Rights for Youth.
The driving force behind the new laws was Equality Minister Irene Montero. “Today is a historic day of progress on the feminist right,” the minister wrote on Twitter. She is a member of Podemos, the radical left party, which is a minority partner in the governing coalition with the Socialists.
Passed by 185 votes in favour, 154 against and 3 abstentions, the Menstrual Leave Act makes Spain the first country in Europe and one of the few in the world to additionally consider this measure Japan, Indonesia It is Zambia.
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The text of the law stipulates that “sick leave granted to the woman in the event of secondary obstructive menstruation or secondary dysmenorrhoea linked to pathologies such as endometriosis is considered a special situation of temporary incapacity for work due to general contingencies”.
“It is a matter of adequately regulating this pathological situation in order to eliminate any type of negative prejudice in the workplace,” adds the law, which does not specify how long this sick leave will last. This reform, rejected by rightwing parties, regards menstrual health as part of the right to health.
But the measure has met with reservations from the government’s socialist wing and has been criticized by the General Workers’ Union (UGT). UGT expressed concern that employers who seek to avoid them end up preventing the hiring of women.
The conservative People’s Party (PP), the largest opposition party, warned of the risk of “exclusion, stigmatization” and “negative consequences in the labor market” for women.
The new law also aims to combat menstrual poverty and in this sense counts on the free distribution of menstrual hygiene products in educational centers, prisons and social centers for women in precarious situations. State health centers will also distribute hormonal contraceptives and the morningafter pill.
The menstrual leave is one of the key measures of a much broader bill to improve access to abortions in public hospitals, which perform less than 15% of these types of procedures in the country, largely due to massive conscientious objection on the part of doctors.
The amendments enshrine the right to abortion in a state hospital. But under the new system, doctors in state hospitals will not be required to perform abortions as long as they have written their objection.
New law allows 16 and 17yearolds in Spain to have an abortion without parental consent.
The abortion law builds on the laws passed in 2010, which represented a major change for a traditionally Catholic country and transformed Spain into one of the most progressive countries in Europe when it comes to reproductive rights.
Spain’s constitutional court last week rejected an appeal by the rightwing People’s Party against allowing abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
A separate package of reforms, also passed by lawmakers on Thursday, strengthened transgender rights, including allowing any citizen over the age of 16 to change their legally registered gender without medical supervision.
Minors aged 1213 need a judge’s authorization to change, while children aged 1416 must be accompanied by their parents or legal guardian.
In the past, transgender people required a diagnosis from multiple doctors. The second law also bans socalled “conversion therapy” for LGBT+ people and provides state support for lesbians and single women seeking IVF treatment.
The centreleft coalition government is currently under fire over another of Montero’s star projects, a new sexual consent law that was intended to increase protections against rape but inadvertently allowed hundreds of sex offenders to receive reduced sentences.
The Yes Only Means Yes law makes verbal consent a key component in cases of alleged sexual assault. The government is now trying to come up with an amended version and end the controversy ahead of elections later this year.
The three initiatives have met strong opposition from rightwing parties, which form Spain’s main opposition bloc./AFP, AP and EFE