Women in Castilla y León who may be considering an abortion will be offered a fourth ultrasound in the first trimester of pregnancy so that parents can listen to the baby’s heartbeat and a 4D ultrasound in a bid to prevent them from making that decision.
The vice president of the regional government, Juan García-Gallardo, explained the new measures at a press conference on Thursday.
He also gave thanks to the Minister of Health, Alejandro Vázquez, with whom the government has been negotiating on this matter, and added that he is “very willing”.
The “fetal heartbeat protocol”, will be offered to women who are between six and nine weeks pregnant he explained, with the intention of allowing the parents to emotionally bond with their baby.
García-Gallardo stressed, however, that women would “not be forced to listen to their baby’s heartbeat if they don’t want to”.
Currently, pregnant women are offered three ultrasounds in pregnancy which are typically given at weeks 12, 20 and 33 of gestation.
Women who require it will also be offered an additional 4D ultrasound, which according to the documentation from the regional government is to promote the “emotional involvement” of the family by observing “an image of the baby with its facial features and gestures, hands, fingers, feet and the rest of the body”.
However, at this stage in pregnancy when all these facial features can be seen, it would already be too late for a legal abortion, which women in Spain can request up until 14 weeks.
García-Gallardo said that a “preferential” procedure will be given to women who are considering terminating their pregnancies, as well as “specific psychosocial care”, a measure that is already provided for in Spain’s so-called Abortion Law, which establishes the need to offer psychological care and a period of reflection of at least three days.
The regional government will also defend the right of doctors to exercise conscientious objection to avoid performing abortions, which is widespread in Castilla y León, where they are only regularly performed at the Hospital de Miranda de Ebro. We will not “black list” doctors who refuse to perform abortions García-Gallardo confirmed.
The measures are still in the proposal phase and will have to be approved by order of the Ministry of Health before they become a reality.
According to the latest data available from 2021, the number of voluntary abortions grew by 7.2 percent in Castilla y León compared to the previous year, with 2,597, below the 2,674 recorded in 2019, before the pandemic.
Only 217 were made in hospitals, with only 59 in public centres or 2.2 percent.