18 December 2007
MADRID – The Socialist Party called yesterday for a "reflection" on the issue of abortion, in the wake of several high-profile arrests of staff at private termination clinics, which have been charged with performing illegal procedures.
Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero accepted calls from colleagues that a study of the issue is needed with a view to formulating policy prior to next year’s general elections, going back on his initial plan to leave abortion – along with several other controversial areas – out of any pre-electoral debate.
The subject was raised in a meeting of the Socialist Party Executive on Monday by the equality secretary, Maribel Montaño, who claimed that Spain’s current abortion legislation, which is 22 years old, could be having a negative effect on the general public.
The last week alone has seen the closure of two abortion clinics in Madrid by the health board, which claims that the procedures carried out there "constitute an imminent and serious risk for the public."
At the beginning of the month, three clinic employees were arrested in Barcelona, accused of performing illegal abortions as well as facing charges of illicit association and falsification of documents.
Spanish law currently states that a woman may end her pregnancy in just three situations: if her physical or mental health are at risk at any stage during pregnancy, if the foetus suffers severe malformation (up to 22 weeks of gestation), or pregnancy as a result of rape (up to 12 weeks).
The procedure was partially legalised in 1985, and since then, the number of abortions performed in Spain – a figure that currently hovers around 90,000 a year – has steadily risen.
Almost all of the procedures carried out in the country take place in private clinics.
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL. 2007]
Subject: Spanish news