“Periods will no longer be taboo,” Equality Minister Irene Montero said after the bill was passed by the Spanish cabinet.
“No more having to go to work with pain, no more taking pills before arriving at work and having to hide the fact that we are in pain, which prevents us from working,” said Montero, who was pushing for the adoption of the bill.
The measure is part of a broader set of reproductive rights that would also allow adolescents aged 16 and over to obtain an abortion without parental consent and remove the requirement that a pregnant person requesting an abortion confirm the decision three days after requesting the procedure. It also includes provisions to expand access to sanitary pads for students. The Spanish parliament will have to debate the bill, in an approval process that could take months.
Spain currently allows abortion on request up to the 14th week of pregnancy. Beyond that, it is authorized up to 22 weeks in certain circumstances, such as a fetal anomaly.
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The bill has been “a long time in the making,” said Caroline Hickson, regional director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s European network.
She said a key part of the menstrual leave provision is that doctors can recommend sick leave for any medical condition.
“In theory, if you have period pain, you should be as entitled to it as any other condition,” she said. “It’s really about normalizing something so simple, so fundamental – which for years has been such a source of shame and stigma, of embarrassment.”
Leah Hoctor, senior regional director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the Washington Post that the Spanish bill is part of a broader movement across Europe to recognize “specific needs and protection”. of all menstruating.
Only a few countries, including South Korea and Indonesia, offer forms of menstrual leave. In some countries, employees are said to be reluctant to ask for leave, while others fear discrimination.
Similar concerns have been raised about the provision of periodic leave in Spain.
Cristina Antonanzas, deputy general secretary of one of Spain’s biggest unions, the UGT, has warned that the periodic leave provision could have an impact on “women’s access to the labor market”.
“You have to be careful with this type of decision,” she told France 24.