Teen Abortions Increase in Spain

MADRID, -- November 1999 -- Spain's Ministry of Health and Consumption's latest report on "voluntary interruption of pregnancy" reveals that the number of Spanish girls -- who are legally minors, who have an abortion has increased by 60% since 1990.

In 1997, the number of abortions carried out was 49,578 or 2.7% less than in 1996, for which abortion facilities reported having performed 51,002 abortions. While the total number of abortions has decreased in relation to last year, there is a 60% increase of 19 year-olds or younger who have aborted.

Moreover, if this data is compared with that of 1990, in which 37,231 abortions were recorded, the number of women who seem to have aborted in 1997 has increased 30%. Abortion has certainly lowered the Spanish birth rate -- which is 1.15, the lowest in the world.

The number of abortion facilities has also increased. In 1990, 81 centers registered their abortions, of which 96.53% were private. In 1997, the number of abortion facilities increased to 115, especially in Andalusia and Catalonia. There are more private centers -- 97.32%, than public -- 2.68%.

"Maternal health" is the principal reason given by women who seek abortions. In 1997, 97.79% of abortions were carried out for this reason. The three reasons that Spanish law allows are: if the mother's health is endangered, if the fetus is malformed, and if the pregnancy is due to rape. But the first reason is the one women allege. Only 2.08% of abortions were due to fetal malformation, and 0.03 to rape.

Some experts believe that with the excuse of maternal health, the private abortion facilities let any woman have an abortion. Meanwhile, Joaquin Amunia, leader of the opposition and Spanish Socialist Labor Party, has promised his voters that he will promote free abortion in Spain if he wins the elections in the year 2000.

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