In Spain, VOX’s success in furthering their pro-life agenda in the regional government of Castilla-León is echoing in national politics as the country gears up for this year’s decisive general elections.
On January 12, VOX successfully pushed a resolution on a series of pro-life measures through the executive board (junta in Spanish) of the Castilla-León regional government. A press release from the regional health ministry run by the Partido Popular (PP) stated,
The Junta de Castilla y León will promote a series of measures related to the health care field to promote the birth rate and comprehensive support for families, as one of the axes of public policies in the coming years and in line with the actions included in the government agreement signed between PP and VOX.
The two parties formed a coalition government in the region in 2021. VOX is the minority party of the partnership.
The measures are four: guarantee pregnant women access to psychological care; design a protocol to offer an additional sonogram in the 6th to 9th weeks of pregnancy that allows the mother to listen to the baby’s heartbeat; widen the protocol for offering 4D sonograms; and ensure that medical professionals can freely exercise conscientious objection to performing abortions.
In a press conference following the junta’s meeting, Juan García-Gallardo, the VOX regional president and vice president of Castilla-León, said the measures would take effect “immediately,” though taking the necessary steps, such as buying additional medical equipment where needed, would be up to the public health service. He also emphasised the pro-life intention of the measures:
These are pro-life measures that are intended to give all the support possible to mothers, and fathers, who want to continue the pregnancy.
He further explained that the measures were intended to ensure that pregnant women had social support and could incorporate the experience of hearing their child’s heartbeat or seeing a 3D sonogram into their decisions about the pregnancy. He concluded that
If these measures are effective in saving one life from abortion, it’s worth the difficulties that being in government involves. In another press conference, the regional health minister, Alejandro Vázquez of the PP, downplayed any relation of the measures to abortion, saying that they simply sought to improve the health care offered to pregnant women.
National leaders from both parties also addressed the new policy of the regional government.
Borja Sémper, the spokesman for the PP campaign committee, said on Thursday that his party would not “swallow anything” in its cooperation with VOX, El Debate reports. In his opinion, he clarified, the policies to promote the birth rate are perfectly compatible with the freedom of women.
Santiago Abascal, president of VOX and a deputy in the national congress, affirmed his support for the measures.
“What surprises us is that there are people who, in a drama like abortion, do not want to give information, assistance and an alternative to women. We are going to stand firm,” he said, in the face of opponents who claim the measures will diminish access to abortion.
He explained that the objective of the policy is not to “force” doctors in their medical practice, but “to give mothers the right to be able to hear the heartbeat of the life they carry inside.”
He avoided delving into the difference in positions between the PP and Vox.
“I am not going to add any more debate that could complicate the good relationship between the PP and Vox in Castilla y León,” he concluded.
On Friday, January 13, in the middle of these polemics, the regional president of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso of the PP, announced that her government was opening an information telephone service for pregnant women.
The new service, she assured, is not against anyone, but “in favour of life.”
“Pregnant women have the right to be informed and not be alone or pressured by anyone. She must receive support and advice when she requests or needs it. And, for this reason, we will be there,” she said.
Diaz Ayuso, one of the PP’s most popular leaders, has proven to be ambivalent overall on abortion, however, also expressing her support for the current abortion law that allows for abortion on demand up to week 14 of pregnancy.
After four years of a socialist-led coalition government, the country is expected to swing right in the next election, though the main right party, the PP, may not be able to win an absolute majority. For both the PP and VOX, which has gained in recent elections both regionally and nationally, this means a careful dance in their contest for the country’s right-leaning voters.