The conservative government in Spain has recently abolished the right to abortion in the country after a long campaign of demagogy and reaction. One of the grimmest features of this campaign was the government-paid series of shocking images depicting unborn foetuses, displayed on buses within major cities. Despite all the promises made by the PP government, this is one of the few points of their electoral program that they have actually met.
The response from the streets to what has been termed "the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the history of the Spanish democracy" was immediate. Trade unions, feminist associations, and even the group ‘Catholics for the Right to Choose’ protested, along with tens of thousands of workers, in demonstrations in dozens of cities.
The outrage in response to this reactionary law has already reached international proportions, with protests in major cities like Paris and London. Edinburgh also responded to the call for international support in their hundreds, marching from the Scottish Parliament, through the busy commercial Princes Street, and to the Spanish consulate, where a petition for the rights of women and a demand for the resignation of the Spanish government was issued to the consul.
The demonstration was lively and fun with Spanish and English slogans that attracted considerable support from the local community. There was also a positive real attempt to gather the support and solidarity from local activists and organisations in Edinburgh, many of whom marched with the Spaniards and signed the petition. The response from the Edinburgh Spanish community has been consistent in this and other issues, enthusiastically organising campaigns and protests in recent years, and they have made their mark in Edinburgh as one of the most radical and organised movements of young people in the city.
Since the beginning of the crisis we have witnessed continuous attacks on people’s rights and living standards. This anti-abortion law directly restricts the rights of women to decide over their own body and life, making the personal and private circumstances of women a matter for the state’s intervention and further restraining the limits of what we call democracy. Furthermore, this law comes as part of a package of ‘constitutional reforms’ carried out by the government, which includes a massive wave of privatisations and restrictions to the right to protest, best illustrated by the recently termed ‘gag law’.
Spain has become a tragic example of a system in crisis. On the one hand, austerity measures have plundered the country leaving nearly 60% of the youth unemployed and 28% of the population living under the threat of poverty and social exclusion, according to Eurostad figures. On the other hand, little or no investment has been made in the country for years, further squeezing the resources of Spain and concentrating the wealth into a tiny layer of the population.
The right to a safe abortion will from now on belong to those who can afford it, just like so many other rights we used to have. This is yet another grim reminder of how the capitalist system turns the suffering of many into the wealth of a few.
From Edinburgh, Socialist Appeal fully supports the campaign for women’s rights in Spain and elsewhere, and condemns the exploitation of women and restrictions to their freedom. Spanish women will be forced to fight once again for the rights won through struggle by their parents and grandparents.
Moreover, we would like to highlight that the struggle for women’s emancipation should be core to the fight for international socialism and the right of the majority of the population to decide over their own lives and resources. More protests have already been announced in Edinburgh and internationally.