The Minister for Equality, Irene Montero, has estimated at 23.8 million euros the impact that sick leave due to a painful and incapacitating rule will have on Social Security, which is one of the most innovative measures of the draft reform of the law of the abortion, which recovers that 16 and 17-year-old girls can interrupt pregnancy without parental authorization.

The text has passed this Tuesday in the first round for the ¡after a few last days of negotiations in which the menstrual permit caused a confrontation within the Government, as well as a debate in public opinion about whether it was a stigmatizing measure that could harm women at work.

Finally, Montero overcame the resistance that existed in the PSOE and celebrated at a press conference after the Council of Ministers that Spain became the first European country to promote this type of sick leave. “What is stigmatizing is that until now talking about menstruation in our society, but particularly in the workplace, was not a real possibility”, assured the Minister for Equality, who explained that women have experienced their menstruation since “loneliness”, “shame” and “guilt”.

The operation of this permit was already announced last Friday, when Equality reached an agreement with the Ministry of Social Security to keep it in the draft. It will be for cases of painful and incapacitating periods, it will have to be ruled by a doctor and it will be paid for by Social Security from the first day, and not by the company or the worker, and there will be no maximum period of days for that permit, It will depend on each woman. Previous days of contribution will not be required for this right.

The standard glosses the pathologies to which disabling periods are linked in most cases, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovaries. However, women who may have menstrual cramps and other pathologies related to menstruation will also be covered.

Montero won the internal battle for this sick leave but, on the other hand, lost two others: the reduction of VAT on feminine hygiene products and the criminal prosecution of people who resort to surrogacy outside of Spain. The two measures contained in the draft disappear from the text of the draft.

Regarding the first, the Treasury stopped a drop from 10% to 4% of VAT for tampons, compresses or menstrual cups. Montero explained that the “commitment” is to “work on it” with a view to the next General State Budgets and that, therefore, it is not ruled out. In fact, this tax reduction is contemplated in the agreement that formed the coalition agreement between the PSOE and United We Can. In a few months this issue will begin to be “debated” again, but within the budgetary framework and not within a law.

Regarding surrogacy, Montero has managed to have it considered “violence” against women, however, the Ministry of Justice has knocked down his claim that citizens who go abroad to make use of surrogacy be punished with prison sentences. the so-called “wombs for hire” where it is a completely legal practice. Because in Spain it is still prohibited.

The Minister of Equality has defended that surrogacy is a “reproductive exploitation” of women and has indicated that it takes advantage of situations of vulnerability. That is why she has invited to see and know “the reality” in which these women are. To conclude that it is nothing more than a form of “violence”.

Based on this consideration, Montero has managed to get the bill to prohibit the advertising of companies that act as intermediaries between Spanish couples and foreign women who are willing to carry a baby in their countries.

Regarding the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, Montero has highlighted the relevance of recovering the “rights” contained in the 2010 law and that the PP changed in 2015 in terms of access to abortion for minors. The bill recovers that girls of 16 and 17 years can abort without the need for their parents’ permission.

Montero has defended that “prohibiting” or “limiting” abortion “has never served to reduce it”, but that it has only caused “more insecurity, suffering and poverty” for women.

On the other hand, the rule contemplates a prepartum leave for pregnant women from week 39 (and not 36 as requested by the draft), which will not deduct time from maternity leave. It is estimated that this measure has a cost of about 57 million euros.

That money is just over half the cost of applying all the measures included in the draft, which is estimated at 104 million euros, according to the minister.

The preliminary bill will still have to return a second time to the Council of Ministers for approval, but it will be given an urgency so that the deadlines can be shortened. In this way, they trust that they will be able to send it before to the Congress of Deputies for processing. It will be then when the parliamentary groups will be able to make contributions or amendments to the text.

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