“Everybody makes mistakes; everybody has those days,” says the wise and worldly Miley Cyrus, circa the Hannah Montana years. But some people, especially lawmakers responsible for deciding reproductive rights laws, probably shouldn’t be following this still-annoyingly catchy advice. Spain's Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez accidentally submitted the wrong vote for a law that would require minors to get parental permission before receiving an abortion. The move proposed by Spain’s People's Party passed by a parliamentary majority vote. Sánchez's vote was by no means the deciding factor, though. The vote passed with 184 in favor to 136 votes against the bill. Many lawmakers did not support the bill because it actually wasn't tight enough on abortion restriction, The Guardian reports.
Sanchez tweeted his apologies, saying, “I am firm in my commitment to the freedom of women aged under 18. I have always publicly defended it. I apologize for the error.”
Of course, social media was harsh on Sánchez and his blunder. He was compared to buffoon-types, such as the ever-blundering Homer Simpson from The Simpsons. Except this is not a mistake involving a devil-donut. This slip-up involves the reproductive health of women in Spain, and it's a very real uh-oh.
But it's no secret to Sánchez or to the rest of the Parliament that his mistake was not much of a game-changer in Spain’s ongoing abortion restriction laws. In 2013, lawmakers in Spain approved a bill setting abortion restrictions, which required women to get approval from two doctors who were not performing the procedure. A doctor was also allowed to deny the procedure for reasons of conscience, according to The Huffington Post. The restrictive bill, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, only allowed abortion in the case of rape or when the fetus was at risk. This restrictive bill followed a 2010 bill that allowed women in Spain to receive an abortion before 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Pro-life opposition and abortion restrictions are tight in the EU — these laws are not just happening in Spain. Last year in Ireland, an immigrant woman who was raped in her own country was refused an abortion in Ireland and forced to have a C-section. This came after the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died of septic shock after being denied an abortion despite her worsening health. Although Sánchez claims to have made an honest mistake, unfortunately, there are lawmakers who say and do things that would make any pro-choice activist groan. We don’t even have to cross the pond for examples. Let’s take a trip back to 2012 when Missouri's Todd Akin shut down his chances for an election win when he said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”
And, in the same year as Akin's much-discussed comment, lawmakers in Virginia proposed a bill that required women to receive a transvaginal ultrasound before getting an abortion. In response, right-wing personality Dana Loesch said women consented to penetration during sex and should therefore have no problem with the new mandated procedure.
Whether the conversation is happening in lawmakers' offices or in recent honest testimony by Girls actress Jemima Kirke, there has been a great deal of abortion discussion lately. In Sánchez's case, the sufficing final word would have been a simple "no" vote. And when it comes to women’s health, some lawmakers might want to double check where they stand.
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