Spain’s justice minister had decided to allow abortion in the case of an unborn child being “malformed,” despite the government’s 2011 election promise to reform abortion laws so that a child may be killed in the womb only in case of rape or when a continued pregnancy would endanger the health of the mother.
Draft legislation approved in January has been softened after divisions within the ruling conservative Popular Party and a series of street protests by pro-liberal abortion groups. Women from the militant organisation Femen staged one demonstration in February in which they stripped to the waist and pelted Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela with women’s knickers when he arrived at church to attend Mass.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government announced in December it would roll back a 2010 law, introduced by a Socialist government, that allows women to opt freely for abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and up to 22 weeks in case of “malformation” of the child or a threat to the health of the mother.
Despite the protests, Rajoy has consistently defended his government’s plans for reforms which would make abortion available in case of rape reported to police or in case of a threat to the health of the mother, as certified by two doctors not affiliated to the clinic at which she is seeking the abortion.
The government’s reforms also include a prohibition for a girl under 18 applying for an abortion without the consent of her parents.
However, in the face of political pressure Rajoy is now moving to soften the new restrictions.
The Bill is likely to be approved by parliament next month and come into effect at the end of the year.