Spain has passed a new anti-abortion law to replace current legislation permitting the procedure without restrictions until the 14th week.
Justice minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said on Friday that abortion will only be allowed in the case of rape or when there is a serious mental or physical health risk to the mother. Accredited fetal deformities that would endanger a child’s life if born will also be accepted.
He said 16- and 17-year-olds will once again have to obtain permission from their parents to have an abortion.
Gallardon’s ruling Popular party has always sided heavily with the Catholic church on moral and social issues.
With the Catholic church, and against women and people in general who want to be able to decide whether and when to have children.
Naturally, not everyone is pleased.
“These changes have more to do with politics and ideology than social realities today in Spain,” said Francisca García of the Asociación de Clínicas Acreditadas para la Interrupción del Embarazo, the umbrella group that represents 98% of the country’s abortion clinics.
“From all the data we’ve seen, the number of abortions in Spain is actually on the decline,” she said. “The People’s party is trying to satisfy the rightwing factions of its party.”
Given the economic crisis that has gripped the country, “there is little public demand for this initiative. These are secondary problems compared to the crisis,” said García.
According to the organisation, recent data it had analysed showed that of the 118,000 or so abortions that took place in 2011, nearly 100,000 would be illegal under the expected changes.
So that could mean 100 thousand women’s lives messed up every year, to say nothing of the men and children also affected by the woman’s inability to decide for herself.
Elena Valenciano, the deputy secretary general of Spain’s Socialist party, spoke out against the Catholic church in April, accusing it of trying to diminish women’s say over their own bodies.
“And women, that is to say mothers, don’t they have a word in this? Ministers, judges, bishops, scientists are going to decide what we should do with our motherhood. Yes, they know. We obey and shut up. Amen,” she vented on her Facebook page.
Women’s groups across the country echo her views. “This is a fight for control over women’s bodies,” said Yolanda Besteiro, president of the Federación de Mujeres Progresistas.
“For so many generations, so many Spanish women have fought for equality,” she said. “They have had some tremendous successes, including a past government that counted as many female ministers as male. But now it seems like their fight was worth nothing.”
Cheer up. There’s a new pope, and lots of people say he’s a real sweetie.