Francisca Fernández Guillén

Fernández GuillenObstacles to Legal Abortion in Spain and its Consequences through some Law cases and Court Decisions

A county court decision ordering to compensate a woman who lost her uterus after a state owned hospital refused to carry out abortion has been recently confirmed by the appeal court. The Galician public health service, SERGAS, refused to perform the necessary termination, invoking the doctor’s right to objection on moral grounds, referring her instead to a private clinic in Madrid at 32 weeks of pregnancy. The journey was difficult and as soon as she arrived, she was transferred to the emergency ward at La Paz hospital where her womb was removed in order to save her life.

The High Court’s ruling made it clear that what had occurred was a “severe failure of the health system.” As a lawyer, I am concerned that this case is not an isolated one. During the proceedings I learned of a number of women who have had similar experiences with this and other Spanish Health Services.

Francisca Fernández Guillén is a feminist lawyer who specialises in sexual and reproductive health. She collaborated as an expert with the Women’s Health Observatory (part of the Spain’s Ministry of Health) on the development of the “Strategy for Assistance at Normal Childbirth in the National Health System”. She also gives training and talks for professionals on health legislation and bioethics and contributes articles and opinion pieces to journals and specialist press, some of which can be read at

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