Spain censors information about abortion amid Covid-19 lockdown.
For immediate release, June 17 th, 2020:
Spain blocks access the website of the women's rights organisation Women on Web, which provides information about safe abortion services.
Independent investigation has shown that website of Women on Web (www.womenonweb.org) has been blocked since the end of January, 2020 for the whole Spanish territory. Women on Web is a non-profit organisation supporting women around the world with information about safe medical abortions since 15 years. Research into the outcome of the service has proven it to be a legal and very safe alternative for women who have no access to local services because of legal restrictions or social/economic circumstances.
By censoring the Women on Web website, Spain has joined ranks with notorious countries concerning censorship like Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which also censor Women on Web.
The security and isolation measures implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have hampered access to contraceptives, emergency contraception and safe abortion care, especially people of family members with COVID-19 symptoms, in situations of domestic violence and without private transportation living far from abortion services. Therefore, countries like, for example, the UK, France and Ireland, allowed for telemedical abortion services so that women could stay at home while doing the abortion with pills.
Human rights organizations in the region have urged all European countries to take measures to ensure timely access to safe abortion care during the crisis. They have stressed that restrictions on basic sexual and reproductive health services disproportionately affect women from excluded groups.
The censorship of the Women on Web website was adopted without any prior formal notification that conforms to the minimum standards of due process. On June 8 th, Women on Web requested the Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios and all main Spanish Internet Service to lift the censorship and allow women in Spain to access the Women on Web website. There was no response. Therefore, today, Women on Web submitted this information to the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Countries withholding information about and access to safe abortion services violate Article 19 of the Universal declaration of Human rights, the right to freedom of information. and cause grave harm especially to women in the most vulnerable situations like domestic violence, which exacerbated in Spain as the result of covid 19 measures.