Women feel brunt of abortion strike

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Clinics begin turning away patients, including those near legal term limit.

10 January 2008

MADRID - Desiré is 22 months pregnant and is nearing the end of the legal term limit for a termination, according to Spanish law.

Unfortunately, the strike called by abortion clinics across Spain may force her to give birth to a baby that doctors, only days ago, found to be suffering from a genetic defect.

"She is nearing the limit that the law prescribes for foetal defects. We cannot help her here so we sent her to Social Security, with instructions that if they cannot help her, to send her back and we will try to find an adequate solution," said Francisca García, spokeswoman for Acai, the association of clinics that called the strike.

It claims that clinics have been subjected to "abusive inspections" by health authorities after clinics operated by Peruvian doctor Carlos Morín were raided as part of an investigation into illegal late-term abortions.

It is estimated that some 2,000 women had appointments this week for a termination. But the strike, which will last until Saturday, has forced them to postpone their procedures.

Desiré's problem is that she lives in Castilla y León where there is no public hospital that performs abortions. Women who are pregnant and need to abort, can only do so at private clinics.

Laura (not her real name) is eight months pregnant. She needs an abortion, but on Tuesday found all the clinics closed. "She asked for permission to miss work today without telling them where she was going. When she found out that we could not help her, she became very nervous and broke down," said Luisa Torres, spokesperson for the Dator Clinic, where she went.

"She was very worried because she said if she waited another day she could lose her job. If one already makes the decision to abort, it is even more painful when you are told you have to delay it, even a week longer," Torres said.

Abortion clinic spokespersons claim that the strike wasn't designed to cause problems for women. But some appear to have already felt its effects. Acai had said that only urgent procedures would be carried out during the strike.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / MARÍA R. SAHUQUILLO 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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