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Abortion Legalized In Spain, With Additional Parental Notification Laws

Abortion Legalized In Spain, With Additional Parental Notification Laws

On Thursday, Spanish lawmakers voted to ease restrictions on abortion, approving a bill to allow the procedure unrestricted until 14 weeks into the pregnancy.  This comes on the heels of a lawsuit against the Irish government’s prohibitive abortion laws, and illustrates the extent to which these two historically Roman Catholic countries lag behind their more secular neighbors in terms of abortion rights.  The Spanish law is expected to be approved by the Senate early next year.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a Socialist who took power in 2004, has led an ambitious reform agenda which culminated in this new law.  Under Zapatero, gay marriage has also been legalized and divorce restrictions have been eased.  These moves have not been popular with conservatives and the Catholic Church. 

But the abortion law in particular reverses a historical denial of women’s reproductive freedom.  The AP writes, “under the current [abortion] law, which dates back to 1985, Spanish women could in theory go to jail for getting an abortion outside certain strict limits — up to week 12 in case of rape and week 22 if the fetus is malformed.”  Abortion was nevertheless widely available because women can assert mental distress as the sole ground for accessing the procedure, regardless of the progress of the pregnancy.  More than 100,000 abortions are conducted in Spain each year, and most of them are early-term procedures that fell under the mental distress category.

This bill, however, is important, because it erases the threat of jail time and declares abortion to be a woman’s right.  This is important, because in the past there have been serious consequences for women, doctors and clinics.

The news isn’t all good though.  The Socialists were forced to amend the bill so that it included parental notification for minors (although parental consent was not required).  This may seem like a small concession, but if young women are forced to inform their families about an abortion, it can become problematic very quickly (as Jos on Feministing points out, strong anti-choice beliefs and incest can make safely informing families extremely difficult).

Predictably, conservatives and the Catholic Church were angry about the bill’s passage.  Anti-choice protesters rallied outside the legislature, and the Spanish Bishops’ Conference “warned last month that legislators who voted in favor of the bill would be sinning and no longer eligible to receive Communion.”

The important thing is that women in Spain will soon be able to access abortion until 14 weeks, although late-term abortions may prove more difficult.  Let’s hope that more and more countries extend the crucial right to choose to their female citizens.

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Photo courtesy of echo4ngel's Flickr Photostream.

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105 comments

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7:14PM PST on Jan 1, 2010

Charlene R says - IF ONLY men could carry and deliver babies, IF ONLY women were not brained-washed by these same men.
Simple - If only women were rational and played the part intended as the man should play his.
Our laws similar to ancient law is not to kill irrespective of your gender but many women think it's their right to kill and call it a woman's choice.
Thank God for men who are here to control genocide on demand.

5:31PM PST on Dec 31, 2009

Kat H., "Camila" Is an argentinian movie based in a real case from Argentina, not from Spain.

4:39PM PST on Dec 31, 2009

Finally! I'm spanish myself, and I'm very happy about this! Vaiva G., we spanish people aren't that conservatives about sex, there are still some people who are, but the great majority of young spanish people (where I include myself) are liberal about sex, we have sex education at public schools and a lot of information at hand.

7:24AM PST on Dec 26, 2009

Parental notification is practically the same as outlawing abortion for teens. People who think such a law will help have forgotten what it is like to be a teenager! Or were they never adolescents in the first place?

8:06PM PST on Dec 24, 2009

great

12:40PM PST on Dec 24, 2009

This seems like a good step forward. I think parental notification is very important too because when it comes to young girls many of those abortions are due to ignorance. This is especially important in a country which seems very conservative in some ways, such as perhaps sex ed. Counseling seems like a better option, but perhaps I am just optimistic about the understanding of mother's towards the mistakes of their daughters.

5:58AM PST on Dec 23, 2009

Well done!

3:12PM PST on Dec 22, 2009

interesting. Why do so many people believe that they are their body? Our bodies are the machines that house our SOULS. when the body dies, the soul leaves, it doesn't die with the body. DUH! lol this body is what allows us to roam this earth, it is not the end all. There are things our bodies do without us even thinking about it. Like i said, a machine. you don't think about breathing or peeing or pooping. It's a natural process that the body does on it's own. So yea, abortion will terminate the life of the actual body, but it could never terminate the soul that would have resided in that body. Ya'll act like the soul is doomed if it doesn't live in THAT body. Give me a break. Live your own lives and stop worrying about what everyone else does. That's what gets us all into trouble, being to focused on other's lives when we should be living our own. Trust me, i think we would be a lot happier if we focused on what made us each individually happy. If there weren't so many restrictions I don't think people would act out the way they do. Live and let live. Not every child is going to be born nor should every child be born. that's a part of nature. i don't think it will change anyone's lives personally if a woman aborts. I mean, what? you think you're going to get a postcard every time a woman aborts? yea right! lol there's abortions going on now and i don't think your lives are changing...are they? ha! didn't think so. Just love people, live is too short to waste judging others.

10:40PM PST on Dec 21, 2009

Why don't governments understand that teenagers are human beings with minds of their own? And in a case of incest parental notification just makes the abuse even worse.

6:17PM PST on Dec 21, 2009

If it happens and a fetus is created why to kill him.
If it happens and ilegal baby came out must find a place to take care of him.
If it is legal then why to aboart.
Above all ilegal relations should not occure.

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