Birth control in Tenerife

Tenerife has a large population of residents who are Catholics and this religion is opposed to birth control. However, for many reasons many people living on the island choose to ignore what the Catholic Church says, and, of course, many more are not Catholics anyway and want to use contraception.

A range of condoms is readily available from pharmacies and in supermarkets just like in other countries. Contraceptive pills are available on prescription from doctors and gynaecologists.

 The so-called “morning-after pill” is now readily available from chemists, having been introduced in this way at the end of September, 2009.

The morning-after pill has become widely used as a means of contraception in Spain and was brought in as a means of cutting down on the rising number of unwanted pregnancies in the country. These pills can be bought from a chemist in Tenerife without a prescription from a doctor.

Although attitudes and rulings in Spain about family planning and sexual matters have been greatly relaxed in recent years, the Ministry of Health has nevertheless stressed that these morning-after pills are only intended to be used as an emergency measure and are not to be seen as a normal method of family planning.

When contraception has failed unwanted pregnancies occur and this causes women to seek abortions. But abortion in Spain is viewed, as elsewhere, as a very serious matter and legally there are only a handful of reasons the practice can be allowed.

If a woman’s life is endangered by her pregnancy she would be allowed to have an abortion, and in cases where mental or physical health could be harmed it would be permitted.

When rape or incest can be proven to have taken place resulting in a pregnancy are other grounds that allow abortion to be carried out, and finally, in cases where the foetus is known to be deformed or otherwise impaired.

It is not possible for an abortion to be allowed on any other grounds than those presented above. The length of a pregnancy in which an abortion can be performed varies, however, it can be as far as 22 weeks if the foetus is deformed.

If a qualified psychologist has concluded that the mental health of a pregnant woman is in danger then it would be possible for her to have an abortion at any stage of her pregnancy.

Most abortions in Spain, and in Spanish islands such as Tenerife, are carried out at private clinics.

There are new laws in the process this year, 2010, that could allow abortion on demand; this is causing great debate in many quarters.