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Spain government plans abortion reform: minister

Spain’s conservative government plans to tighten the country’s abortion law to oblige girls aged 16 and 17 seeking the procedure to have their parents’ consent, its justice minister said Wednesday.

Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said he was drawing up a bill to change the former Socialist government’s 2010 law which fully legalised abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

“Some of the principles announced by our party such as the requirement of parental consent in the case of minors (seeking abortion) will be included in this bill,” Gallardon told a parliamentary commission.

The 2010 law gave women the legal right to choose to have an abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, or 22 weeks in cases where the mother’s health is at risk or the foetus shows serious deformities.

Previously they could only have an abortion in cases of rape, serious deformity or when the mother’s health was threatened.

The 2010 reform also allowed girls aged 16 and 17 to have abortions without parental consent, on condition that they could prove they risked suffering domestic violence if they told their parents.

Gallardon said the current law, which was contested at the time by his Popular Party, was adopted “without consensus”.

The party took power under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last month after winning control of parliament in elections on November 20.

In its manifesto it promised to “change the current legislative model relating to abortion in order to reinforce the protection of the right to life as well as female minors”.

Some groups criticised the planned reform on Wednesday.

“This reform is unjustified because the statistics we have do not show that there is a rise in abortions in this age group” since 2010, Francisco Garcia, vice-president of the Association of Accredited Abortion Clinics, told AFP.

“With this reform there is a risk that these women will resort to clandestine means.”

“Most girls of 16 and 17 come accompanied by their parents,” said Yolanda Besteiro, president of the Federation of Progressive Women.

“Only in extreme cases do they not, and it is precisely in those cases that they are going to be left defenceless.”