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A ray of sunshine in the middle of the storm. That is what this Thursday's session of the Spanish Congress was for Irene Montero. In the midst of some very tough weeks for the equality minister from Unides Podemos, due to the controversy over the 'Only yes means yes' law, the parties of the Spanish governing coalition and their allies have strengthened her figure, with the final approval of the other two 'star' laws of her ministry: revised abortion legislation and the trans law. Both texts came from the Senate, where some small tweaks had been made, and this Thursday it was necessary to give the final green light to both bills.

"The trans law is law", exclaimed Montero, addressing herself to members of the LGBTI collective who were in the public gallery in the Congress of Deputies, closely following the debate and the vote. Taking advantage of the headaches that the Spanish government has been suffering in recent days, the opposition People's Party (PP) opted to interpret the trans law as a text that will bring problems similar to those of the 'Only yes means yes' law on sexual liberty. "It's going to be a remake", bellowed PP deputy María Jesús Moro from the podium, in addition to asking "not to experiment with people". The PP has opposed the lowering of the age at which a person can determine their gender to 16, considering that a person of that age is not sufficiently educated to make such a decision.

In any case, the phase of substantive debate in this chamber had already been passed. Today, MPs simply received some technical corrections that had been made in the Senate: replacing the term procedures with processes and eliminating the possibility that civil servants can request a leave of absence for "intragender violence". It is a term that had already been removed from the bill during its first round of processing in Congress, but had remained in an article that was not taken into account at the time. The law was approved with 191 votes in favour, 60 against and 91 abstentions.

Abortion law shielded

But as well, this Thursday the Spanish Congress also approved the reform of the abortion law. The main change brought about by this reform is to reverse a modification made by Mariano Rajoy's PP: that 16- and 17-year-old women need their parents' consent to have an abortion. Now, they can choose irrespective of their family's views. In addition, the lower house made an amendment to protect the law from any anti-abortion protocol that might be implemented in a territory within the Spanish state, after a controversy broke out in Castilla y León a few weeks ago, due to the intentions of Vox and the PP to coerce women who sought to terminate their pregnancies. It should be noted that today, Thursday, the PP supported this amendment, in order to distance themselves from Vox and, once and for all, bury the conflict that opened a few weeks ago with the Spanish government. 

In general terms, the Spanish abortion law retains the same basis as the law passed in 2010 - which, ironically, was upheld by the Constitutional Court just days ago, when the judges rejected a PP appeal against the Socialist legislation, long stuck in Spain's judicial log-jam. According to the law, a pregnancy can be freely terminated during the first 14 weeks as long as the applicant is informed of her rights, benefits and maternity support. A woman must wait three days from the moment the documentation is delivered until the abortion is carried out. Between 14 and 22 weeks, abortion is permitted if there is a medical diagnosis that justifies it on the basis of fetal malformations or serious illness of the pregnant woman. After 22 weeks, termination can only be allowed when there are abnormalities incompatible with life or a serious or incurable disease is detected at the time of diagnosis.