More liberal abortion law backed by Spain's cabinet
The proposed law would ‘give more guarantees, be more balanced, more modern and bring us closer to the rest of Europe,’ said the equality minister.Madrid -- Spain's cabinet Thursday gave the green light to a bill to liberalise the abortion law, a measure that has sparked the ire of the Roman Catholic Church and led to mass demonstrations by pro-life groups.
Equality Minister Bibiana Aido said the new measure would allow abortions in all cases up to the 14th week of pregnancy and up to 22 weeks if there is a risk to the mother's health or if the foetus is deformed.
Woman can also undergo the procedure after 22 weeks if the foetus has a serious or incurable illness.
She said the proposed law would "give more guarantees, be more balanced, more modern and bring us closer to the rest of Europe."
"What this law is seeking is to protect the dignity of women," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said in a joint news conference with Aido.
The bill would reform the 1985 abortion law, which decriminalised abortion in 1985 but only for certain cases: up to 12 weeks of pregnancy after a rape; up to 22 weeks in the case of malformation of the foetus; and at any point if the pregnancy represented a threat to a woman's physical or mental health.
The majority of abortions in Spain take place in private clinics and are justified on the grounds that the pregnancy posed a "psychological risk" for the health of the woman.
The government in December said the number of abortions carried out each year in Spain had more than doubled in the last decade, reaching 112,138 in 2007, in what it said was a clear sign that the law needed to be reformed.
Earlier this year a government-appointed panel of experts recommended that Spain ease its restrictions on abortion and allow the procedure on demand up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy.
But the Catholic Church, which has clashed with government before over the legalisation of gay marriage, has condemned the proposed law.
And tens of thousands took to the streets of Madrid in March to demand its withdrawal.
The bill received preliminary approval by the government Thursday, but the judiciary must still examine it before it goes back to the cabinet and is finally passed by parliament.