For members


How Spain plans to speed up and change the way it determines disability

The Spanish government has approved a new scale for the assessment of disabilities which could speed up certain emergency procedures and long wait times for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), rare diseases and victims of gender violence.

How Spain plans to speed up and change the way it determines disability
Spain creates a new scale of disability. Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

Spain’s Council of Ministers on Tuesday October 18th approved a new scale of disabilities, which will now replace the current one, which has been in place since 1999.

Those with certain types of incapacity have been unhappy with the situation and have been asking for the scale to be changed for over 10 years so that their disability will be recognised and in turn have more rights.

Waiting times of up to three years for disability recognition in Spain have been described as “distressing” and “inadmissible”. In Catalonia alone, there are 40,000 people waiting to be seen, which prevents people from getting the financial help and care they need.

Typically in Spain, you need to prove you have a disability of 33 percent in order to be eligible for certain benefits. 

The new scale will bring Spain more in line with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health that the World Health Organisation (WHO) established in 2001, focusing on human rights. 

Minister of Social Rights Ione Belarra has said the new criteria to be used will be “more objective, precise and human”, judging disability based on physical factors, but also psychological and social ones. 

According to the latest data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), there are currently 4.3 million people with disabilities in the country.  

What does the new scale cover?

The new scale of disability establishes an urgent procedure, which will reduce the current wait time by half, for “humanitarian reasons and special social, health and life expectancy needs”.

The way of evaluating disability will now be split into four different categories. 

Scale of Global Impairment of the Person which will assess the deficiencies of body functions and structures.

Scale of Limitations in Activity, which will measure the limitations in the person’s capacity to carry out certain activities. 

Scale of Restrictions in Participation. This evaluates the performance of activities and includes a performance questionnaire.

Contextual and Environmental Barriers Scale, will look into factors in the person’s environment that, when present or absent, interfere with their functioning.

  • This includes people with degenerative diseases such as ALS. 
  • Victims of gender violence will also be able to benefit from this emergency procedure. According to the latest Macro-survey on Violence against Women, 17.5 percent of those who have experienced gender violence have a disability caused by the abuse.
  • It will speed up wait times for those waiting for procedures so that the situation is more “flexible” and will ensure “universal accessibility”. This means that some evaluations will be able to be carried out online so that the entire process will be faster.
  • Classifications are also being re-evaluated looking at some of the illnesses which cause disabilities, such as autism or rare diseases. The new scale specifically mentions the possibility of revisions in new causes of disability as they emerge or if new scientific discoveries are made.
  • Finally, the new measures will guarantee the right of minors with disabilities to be “informed, heard and listened to without discrimination based on age or disability”. 

What will the new degrees of disability be?

There will also be five different grades of disability. 

Grade 0: Represents a disability of between 0 and 4 percent. The level of disability assessed is insignificant and there is no difficulty in carrying out activities of daily living. 

Grade 1: Mild disability with between 5 and 24 percent. These people will have only mild difficulty carrying out activities in daily life. 

Grade 2: Moderate disability with between 25 and 49 percent. They will have moderate difficulty in performing daily living activities and it may even be impossible for them to carry out some of them on their own, but they can perform some form of self-care. 

Grade 3: Serious disability with between 50 and 95 percent. Serious difficulty in carrying out daily tasks. It may be impossible for them to carry them out including self-care activities. 

Grade 4: Total incapacity and 100 percent disability. For these people, it is impossible to complete daily tasks, as well as look after themselves.  

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For members


What are the rules on IVF in Spain?

Spain has some of the best fertility clinics in Europe and people travel from all over for assisted reproduction techniques here, both because of the high success rates and standard of care, but what are the invitro fertilisation rules in Spain?

What are the rules on IVF in Spain?

Spain has the second lowest fertility rate in the EU, with an average of 1.23 children per woman, according to the latest data provided by the European Statistical Office, Eurostat, corresponding to 2019 and updated at the end of June 2021.

A report by the Spanish Fertility Society (SEF), says that more and more couples are having problems conceiving and many are choosing to undergo assisted reproductive techniques in order to become parents.  

They consider infertility as: “the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of sexual intercourse with normal frequency and without the use of any method of conception”.

Although male infertility factors are responsible for between 25 percent to 35 percent of cases, the number of older women who want to have children in Spain is the number one issue, the society explains.

But, it’s not just Spaniards who use fertility clinics in Spain, people come from all over Europe and even further afield. A recent study by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine found that five percent of European fertility care involves patients cross border travel and that the most popular European destinations are Spain, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Belgium.

In 2019, Spanish fertility clinics carried out 18,457 treatment cycles for foreigners, the majority from France and Italy. According to Barcelona IVF, the French, English and Italian are the ones who travel the most to Spain to undergo fertility treatments.

So what are the rules on IVF and other assisted reproductive techniques in Spain? 

The In Vitro Fertilisation Law in Spain states that any woman over 18 years old can undergo reproductive techniques in Spain regardless of marital status and sexual orientation. Egg freezing for future use is also allowed.

This legal framework establishes that assisted reproductive techniques can only be used when there are possibilities of success and when they do not pose a serious risk to the health of the patient.

The IVF law in Spain does not allow for uterus transplants or the use of surrogates or gestational carriers.  

While the law has not yet incorporated any mention of ROPA techniques, this is also offered in Spain. The ROPA method is used when women in a same-sex relationship want to share parenthood, whereby one provides the egg and the other one carries the baby.

What is the law on PGD and PGS testing?

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis or PGD is when the embryos are tested for specific inherited genetic issues such as cystic fibrosis. PGS also referred to as PGT-A is Preimplantation Genetic Screening or Testing and tests to see whether the embryo is genetically normal. The second one is typically used for women over the age of 35 or for those who have had multiple implantation failures or miscarriages.

Both types of tests are legal in Spain, however, the IVF law prohibits these tests to allow for selecting the sex of the baby or for physical characteristics. In some countries, such as the US for example, it’s very common to find out the sex of the embryo when these tests are carried out.

What are the rules for IVF in public health care?

Assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF and artificial semination are available through the public health care system in Spain, however, out of the more than 400 fertility centres in Spain only between 10 and 20 percent are public centres.

READ ALSO: Spain restores free IVF to singles, lesbians and now trans people

This means that there are also long waitlists for reproductive techniques through the public system, as well as stricter rules. According to the latest data available, wait lists for IVF are just over one year, however, in many regions, this can go up to two years or longer. In fact, waiting much longer than this is not uncommon.

The government laws establish that the maximum age to undergo these treatments in the public health system is 40 years in the case of women and 55 years for men. This age limit drops to 38 in the case of insemination with a partner’s semen.

The state guarantees a maximum of three rounds of IVF, six if it is by artificial insemination with donor sperm and four if it is with a partner’s sperm. 

Some regions in Spain, have their own rules however such as Madrid which raised the age to 45 and increased the number of rounds from two to four. 

READ ALSO: Madrid raises age limit for women to have free IVF up to 45

What are the laws on egg and sperm donations?

The In Vitro Fertilisation Law in Spain also regulates egg and sperm donation. Egg and sperm donation in Spain is anonymous, voluntary and altruistic.  

The choice of the donor will only be made by a medical team and cannot be selected by the patients, however, doctors will try to match certain physical characteristics. 

Is embryo donation/ embryo adoption legal in Spain?

Yes, according to Article 11 of the law 14/2006 embryo donation or embryo adoption as it is commonly referred to is legal in Spain. Donations must be anonymous and altruistic. 

A couple may wish to donate their embryos if they have a surplus and have already completed their family, while a couple or single woman may want to adopt an embryo if there have issues with their eggs or sperm.

What are the costs of IVF in Spain? 

IVF is a costly process when you go privately, but prices in Spain can be almost half of those you would pay in the US for example. According to the IVF Abroad Patient’s Guide 2022 for IVF using your own eggs, the costs range from €3,600 to €6,700. 

If using an egg donor, it can range from €5,900 to €8,500. For IVF using embryo donation, the costs range from €3,000 to €5,000 and for IVF involving egg freezing, the costs range from €3,500 to €4,700.

Medications for the injections are typically not included in these prices and can cost an extra €1,000 on top.