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The situation in Andorra with regard to gender rights is largely unknown, despite its geographical proximity. One of the reasons is the Andorran government’s own willingness to project an image of modernity, taking into account that 54.5% of the country’s GDP1 (in 2015) is based on the Services sector. However this image is far from reality. In a country where all laws must be approved by one of the co-princes they have as heads of state and where one of them is Monsignor Joan-Enric Vives, bishop of La Seu d’Urgell2, the Catholic Church has strong political power preventing the legalization of abortion and condemning Andorran society to live in a theocracy in the purest medieval style.

In 2005 the Penal Code was approved which recognizes abortion as “crimes against prenatal human life.” In the case of consensual interruptions of pregnancy the legal text provides for prison sentences of three months to one year and disqualification of 5 years for the health professional who exercises it according to Article 1083. The attempted abortion is also considered a crime and the law does not contemplate exceptions, not even in cases of malformation of the fetus, rape or danger to the woman which is why it has been censured by the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a body dependent on the UN4.

With the impulse of the 8M 2018 strike feminist groups in Andorra have begun to beat and bring out their demands for the decriminalization of abortion and the end of sexist violence in the streets5. One of these groups, Stop Violències6, has created a network called “La Meri”7, which provides women with information, support and a safe route to having free abortions in Catalonia. The president of this group the feminist Vanessa Mendoza Cortés has been denounced for defamation by the Andorran government based on the report she had submitted to CEDAW and for which she could be sentenced to up to four years in prison and a 30,000-euro fine8, which shows once again the institutional will to silence critical voices.

The legalization of abortion finds the main obstacle in the institutional organization of Andorra. The episcopal co-princeJoan-Enric Vives has said on more than one occasion that if it were legalized he would cease to be co-prince and the Church would renounce the right to have an Andorran head of state9. For his part the French co-prince Emmanuel Macron said in an official visit to Andorra that he was in favor of abortion but that the decision would correspond to the Andorran people also proclaiming himself “guarantor of the independence of Andorra”10 and therefore suggesting that the Legalization would create a political crisis that would endanger the independence of the country.

We must be aware however that the feminist struggle has begun to reveal the contradictions of the Andorran government. Proof of this is the process against Vanessa Mendoza Cortés or the attempts by the Andorran police to outlaw the demonstration at the last minute on 28th September 2019 and that the feminists decided to disobey11. The feminist struggle has proven to be a sword of Damocles that shakes the political balance of Andorra. Let the feminist struggle continue in Andorra!


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