A European legal analyst has said that proposed new legislation in Spain to return to limits on abortion and assert the state’s right to protect the lives of unborn children reflects a growing trend toward a broader pro-life movement that is spreading across the European continent.
In an analysis of Spain’s proposed bill, titled “The Protection of the Life of the Unborn Child and the Rights of the Pregnant Woman,” Grégor Puppinck, Director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, wrote that “this Bill reflects a new political trend in the West which no longer considers abortion as a ‘freedom and progress,’ but as a violence which needs to be limited.”
As reported by EWTN News, Puppinck said, “One of the goals of the Spanish bill was to create debate. The debate about abortion is all across Europe,” adding that Spain’s bill is a “way to provoke thought” and continue the debate across the European continent.
The proposed Spanish legislation seeks to correct what many believe was an overreaching law, passed by Socialists in 2010, that allowed for abortion up to 22 weeks of pregnancy if there was a “serious risk to the life or health of the mother or the fetus.” Critics, however, have argued that the law was unregulated, essentially leading to an abortion-on-demand situation.
Spain’s bill would continue to permit abortion at different stages throughout pregnancy, but only for specific reasons – that must be validated by medical professionals – including rape, terminal fetal defects, and the physical or mental well-being of the mother. In addition, however, the proposed legislation reinforces the state’s interest in protecting unborn life and doctors’ conscience rights to refuse to participate in abortion.
Furthermore, the bill contains sections that provide for parental notification, intended to protect young women, as well as the requirement that mothers receive medical consultation prior to an abortion.
European media outlets have quoted Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardon as saying, “No right is unlimited,” and that rather than characterize abortion as a “fundamental right,” it should be balanced with the protection of women and unborn children.
Puppinck stated that the proposed legislation does balance the rights of unborn children with the concerns of the mother.
He said the bill “is not hostile to abortion but does not believe anymore that abortion is a great freedom.” In addition, Puppinck said the proposal makes an effort to “reconsider the matter and issue with a more realistic approach, taking into account both the situation of the mother and the existence of the unborn child.”
A Socialist plan to withdraw the bill was soundly defeated February 11th, with the majority of Spain’s parliament voting to allow the measure to move forward to be debated in Congress.
Puppinck confirmed that the pushback against the bill has been minimal, and that “the youth is on the pro-life side with no doubt at all,” observing a recent march in Madrid that drew over one million participants.
The legal analyst said that, while many Christians are “concerned by the problem of abortion,” the European pro-life movement “is broader than the Christians,” embracing a range of religious views.
Those who support restricting abortion, Puppinck said, are driven by “care for others” and “increasing scientific knowledge about life.”
The proposed Spanish legislation is part of a larger European trend against abortion, he added, stating that “the change came first from former communist countries,” such as Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine, and Russia, that have rejected the type of permissive abortion laws commonly imposed by the former Soviet Union on member states.
Puppinck said that scandals in which babies who had survived abortions were “left to die” eventually contributed to countries such as the United Kingdom and Norway to restrict late-term abortions past 22 weeks of pregnancy.
A European citizens’ petition that garnered more than 1.5 million signatures last fall also played a role in the growing trend. The initiative, in support of banning funding for human embryo-destroying policies, led the European Commission to submit the proposal to the E.U. Parliament.
The proposed Spanish legislation is another signal of the shift in views across the European continent, said Puppinck.
“What is important with Spain is that it’s a very Western country, and it goes much further than just limiting late abortions,” he explained. The substantial protections for unborn children that the law would authorize have led to “a big discussion in Spain about whether or not the state can limit abortion,” as well as discussion about the state’s responsibility to women and children, Puppinck said.
The Spanish legislation, he added, demonstrates that the view of abortion as a “sacred human right” is “no longer the only position” in modern Western societies.
Linking the European pro-life trend to the initiatives taken by states in America to restrict abortion, Puppinck wrote, “In fact, in recent years, a growing number of European and American States are reopening the debate on abortion and revising their legislation in a restrictive sense.”
“The Spanish Bill is an example, amongst others, to the point that we can now speak of a trend,” he continued. “This moves towards considering abortion more as a social problem than as a right or an individual freedom. In general, these new laws aim to reduce the legal time limit for abortion in order to better protect the child and to avoid abortions which lack a sufficiently serious motive.”