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MADRID (AP) — The Spanish government on Tuesday approved a bill that expands abortion rights for teenage girls and could make Spain the first country in Europe to allow working women paid menstrual leave.

The measures are part of a set of proposals that will be sent to the Spanish parliament for debate. The package includes an extension of the right to abortion, removing the requirement for 16 and 17 year olds to obtain parental consent before terminating a pregnancy.

The Spanish ruling comes just as the US Supreme Court appears poised to strike down that country’s constitutional right to abortion, which has been in place for nearly half a century.

Spanish government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez said the proposals represented “a new step forward for women, a new step forward for democracy”.

The Spanish government is also proposing to give workers who suffer from menstrual pain as much time as they need, with the state social security system – not employers – paying for sick leave. As with any other temporary medical incapacity, a doctor must approve the medical condition.

The driving force behind the law is the young member of Spain’s left-wing coalition government, the “United We Can” party. It was not immediately clear whether the Socialist-led coalition had enough support in parliament to pass the proposed legislation, which could take months.

The government, which came to power almost four years ago, has made women’s rights one of its political banners. The Cabinet has 14 women and eight men in ministerial positions.

Abortion on demand is allowed in Spain up to the 14th week of pregnancy. The bill also removes the requirement for a three-day waiting period between the request for an abortion and the termination of pregnancy.

The latest generation of birth control pills, including morning after pills, are to be provided free of charge by the national health service under the proposals. They currently cost up to 20 euros ($21) in pharmacies, according to the government.

Spain’s Minister for Equality, Irene Montero, said that if the proposals are approved by lawmakers, Spain will be the first European country to grant paid sick leave for menstrual pain.

“The days when (women) went to work in pain are over,” Montero said, adding that government institutions must “remove taboos, stigma and guilt about women’s bodies.”

She has expressed support for feminist movements fighting for abortion rights in the United States and Poland, as well as in Chile, Argentina and Colombia.

Government officials said mild discomfort would not qualify women for menstrual leave. The proposed law targets more serious symptoms, such as diarrhea, fever and headaches, they say.

The proposals have sparked debate over whether the menstrual leave measure would help or hinder women in the workplace, with some fearing that women will be stigmatized.

Some private companies in Europe have voluntarily adopted periodic policies. Parts of Asia, ranging from Japan to South Korea, have long had rules on menstrual leave, although the extent to which they are used has been debated.

Italy considered the idea in 2016, proposing a bill that would have granted three days of fully paid leave to workers who had obtained medical certificates. The proposal did not progress until the end of the legislature in 2018.

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