By Alyssa McMurtry
OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – The Spanish government on Tuesday approved a plan that would allow women with painful periods to take paid menstrual leave.
The legislation, which still must be passed by the parliament, would make Spain the first European country to explicitly offer women menstrual leaves.
Under the proposed law, women experiencing debilitating period pain could obtain a note from their doctor and the country’s social security system would pay for their absence from work.
Around 15% of women are thought to experience periods painful enough to interfere with daily activities.
“The days of women going to work in pain are over,” said Equality Minister Irene Montero in a news conference on Tuesday.
While the menstrual leave legislation has received outpouring support from women, some labor unions and politicians, it is not without controversy.
Those opposed, such as the UGT trade union, say it could stigmatize women at work. Others fear it could normalize severe menstrual pain.
The new law on menstrual leave is part of a broader package related to women’s reproductive rights.
Part of the bill would also eliminate some of the barriers to abortion in Spain, such as an obligatory three-day reflection period, the need for parental consent for 16- and 17-year-olds and some disabled women, as well as the requirement to hand out pamphlets related to alternatives to abortion.
“Women can think and reflect on their decisions as long as they need, but the state will respect their decision when it is made and will not question it,” explained Montero.
The new abortion law would also guarantee that women could get abortions in the public hospitals closest to their homes.
Meanwhile, women who decide to interrupt their pregnancies would also be entitled to paid leave from work to recover from the procedure.