It is easy to tell who has recently arrived in Barcelona as they buzz with a new lease of life, bursting with uncontrollable energy. The Mediterranean spirit makes people wake up from a life long hibernation, rekindling the urge to go out, meet people and share in the ever-active social scene of the city. However, things like taking precautions and being informed with regards to your options can more challenging with the language – culture barrier. When dealing with personal issues such as the health and state of your or your partner’s body, information is even more vital. This month our helping hand touches a sensitive area, so if you’re not planning on starting a family- read on.
The good news is, everybody is entitled to health care on the National Health Service whether they are legal, tax payers, EU members or not. For details on how to obtain the medical card and documents needed to see a doctor/gynecologist take a look at the article Doctors in BCN (Pg. 17) of July’s edition. Back issues can be found on our website (www.barcelonaconnect.com/newsletter ). In order to receive a prescription for the pill or other contraceptive methods, you must make an appointment with the gynecologist (ginecólogo). Normally this is a female doctor although it could be a male doctor. Contraception is not free in Spain and you will have to buy it on prescription from a Pharmacy. If you have a medical card, however, it will greatly reduce the price. Condoms (Preservativos) are not freely available in Spain on the National Health Service either. Instead you must buy them from a Pharmacy or a supermarket. The Catalan Anti-Aids Association, located on C/Junta Comerç 23 - Raval, gives out between 3 and 6 free condoms for every visit.
There are 36 Family Planning Clinics in Barcelona where you can also go to receive advice about contraceptive methods. For a full list of Family Planning Clinics, visit http://www.bcn.es/english/ihome.htm and go to the section on Health and Care. Scroll down until you find the section on Family Planning. Click on the word Family planning at the top of the advanced search option and you will see a complete list of Family Planning Centres (private and public). Details, such as opening hours, can be found out by clicking on each centre individually. There is usually one doctor who can speak enough English for you to communicate, although this depends on the clinic.
The Morning After Pill
A Gynecologist is also the person who must prescribe you the Morning After Pill, should you need it. You can obtain it at either your local doctor’s surgery or Family Planning Clinic. If you happen to need it on Saturday or Sunday, you can go to the Emergencies (Urgencias) department that is generally located within the same building as the Doctor’s Surgery. It is a good idea to request an anti nausea pill to take with the Morning After Pill, or avoid taking it orally. Make sure you ask your doctor’s advice on how to best avoid nausea.
This is obviously a stressful situation to find oneself in, and if you aren’t certain what to do, perhaps talk to someone outside your circle of family and friends.
It is not possible to get an abortion on the National Health Service although you can apply for economic help that is given to people without resources (sin recursos): people without family, jobs or money. To do this you must contact your local family planning centre. To verify what family planning clinic would be most appropriate for you to visit, telephone the National Health Line (902 111 444) and enquire about assisted abortions. You will be asked your address and told which office corresponds to you. You must telephone your clinic and request an appointment, informing them that it is for an abortion for a person without economic means.
Ninety seven percent of Spanish abortions take place in private clinics. When Barcelona Connect made enquiries about costs, an abortion for a pregnancy up to 12 weeks with a local anaesthetic cost €330, while an abortion with general anaesthetic cost €450. There are three private abortion clinics in Barcelona:
• Agrupación Tutor Médica (Calle Berguedà, nº 19, Tel: 93 419 26 26, www.tutormedica.com)
• Centro Casanovas (Sepúlveda 80 (local 1), Tel: 934 269 734, email@example.com)
• Centre Mèdic Les Corts (Nicaragua, 128-130, baixos, Tel: 934 308 708, firstname.lastname@example.org
The following addresses might also provide you with useful information about contraception and abortion:
• FIAPAC International Federation of Abortion and Contraception Professionals www.fiapac.org
• ACAI Association of Oficial Clinics for the Voluntary Cessation of Pregnancy www.acaive.org / email@example.com
• FPFE Spanish Federacy of Organizations for Family Planning www.fpfe.org / firstname.lastname@example.org
If however you decide that you want your baby to be born here in Barcelona, finding an English speaking doctor is definitely a good idea. The National Health Service also offers medical supervision and treatment during and after pregnancy, for both legal residents and non-residents. You will be issued a Pregnancy Card (Carné de Embarazo) that will detail the proceedings of your pregnancy and should be carried at all times, including during the birth.