By October of this year 907 abortions had been carried out across the province, with the health service doubting this figure will reach 1,500 by year’s end.
This represents a significant drop from its peak in 2009, when 2.300 abortions were carried out.
Across Spain, over 90.000 abortions are expected to be carried out this year, of which 18.000 will be in Andalusia.
According to the gynaecologist Dr. Francisca Garcia, the reason behind the fall is mainly demographic. “Abortions were traditionally most in demand amongst female immigrants, and we are seeing this section of society move on during the recession in search of jobs elsewhere” she explained. “Until 2012 they were the principle clients in Almeria, but since then the demand from this sector of society has dropped. We are also seeing how many young people born here in the province are emigrating to seek work elsewhere. In short, there are simply fewer women of reproductive age in the province and so demand has fallen”.
Dr. Garcia added that she believed the previous demand amongst immigrant women for abortions was due to the uncertainty amongst them on how to access family planning advice.
Easier access to the morning after pill has also contributed to the fall in abortions.
Dr Garcia has been practising in the province since 1985 and was one of the first doctors here to work in this section of medicine.
When abortion was first legalised in that year, it was not available on the public health system and only private clinics offered the service. Andalusia was the first region of Spain to offer abortions on the public health system, in 1996.
Gynaecologists have united to criticise a recent modification to the law which they fear will put young women at risk. Last year, 172 women under the age of twenty aborted in the province.
Previously parental consent was only required for women under the age of sixteen. This new law has raised the age to 18, which leaves these young adults in a legal limbo.
Dr Garcia warned that “If a 17 year old wants to abort but cannot obtain parental consent, they have no option but to ask for a court order, which is a difficult and expensive step for them. I fear this will drive many young women to illegally and dangerous alternatives”.