Vatican reaffirms opposition to abortion in Spain

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The Spanish government plans introduce a new law that will offer greater legal protection for women who wish to have an abortion and for doctors who perform the procedure.

Madrid -- Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone reaffirmed the church's opposition to abortion on Thursday in Spain where the government plans to soften the laws regulating the procedure later this year.

"The dignity of Man, the key theme of all Church social doctrine, implies amongst other things, the respect for life from conception until its natural decline," he said in Madrid in a speech marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Cardinal Bertone, who wrapped up a three-day visit to Madrid on Thursday, made the comments one day after discussing abortion in meetings with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega.

After his speech, the Vatican's number two official told reporters that during his meeting with the two "I tried to make them understand that it is necessary to restrict and not expand abortion."

The Spanish government plans introduce a new law later this year that will offer greater legal protection for women who wish to have an abortion and for doctors who perform the procedure.

Spain decriminalized 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 fetus; and at any point if the pregnancy represents a threat to the physical or mental health of the woman.

The proposed abortion law changes are part of a wave of liberal social reforms, including same-sex marriages and fast-track divorce, which Zapatero has put in place since first coming to office in 2004. Many of these reforms have enraged the Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican has long been concerned about what Spanish bishops describe as “militant secularism” in Spain and its influence in the rest of Europe and former Spanish colonies in Latin America.

During his speech in Madrid, Cardinal Betone attacked gay marriage, saying "family life is based on the marriage between a man and a woman."

The government argues that the promotion of secular values is key to the modernization of Spain, which has become more multicultural and undergone a liberal transformation in the three decades since the death of conservative dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

AFP/Expatica

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