Spain announced plans to offer emergency contraception over-the-counter today with no age restrictions. Spain’s Health Minister, Trinidad Jimenez, said “It is an emergency method of contraception, not to be used except in emergencies….We don’t want it to become another means of contraception,” according to the Agence France Presse.
Emergency contraception is effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or rape, but it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours. Because of the time-sensitive nature of EC, over-the-counter access is crucial to its effective use.
Currently, there is also movement in Spain to reform abortion laws as part of the social change program undertaken by Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. His Socialist government has removed religion from the public education curriculum, reformed divorce laws, and legalized gay marriage since assuming to power in 2004. A Spanish feminist coalition, the State Network of Feminist Organizations, launched a campaign in March to support the liberalization of abortion laws by Spain’s government. Currently, abortion is legal in Spain only in cases of rape, severe fetal abnormalities, or when the mother’s mental or physical health is at risk.