COUNTRYWIDE protests have erupted over the government’s approval of a new abortion law that will permit the procedure only in cases of rape, serious mental or physical risks to the mother, or life-threatening foetal deformities.
Hundreds gathered outside government buildings in Madrid and burnt an effigy of Minister of Justice who masterminded the law.
Protesters took to the streets in around 20 other cities, including Malaga, Bilbao and Barcelona, while the Socialist party has already announced further protests.
The Femen movement, which staged a topless protest at parliament in October which resulted in three arrests, warned on Twitter: “If they take away our right to decide, we´ll have to abort morality, the Church and everything that limits our freedom.”
The ruling Partido Popular (PP) had promised in its manifesto for the 2011 election that it would change current legislation, passed in 2010, that permits abortion without restrictions until the 14th week of pregnancy.
But in a 2012 poll, 81% of Spaniards said they were opposed to changes to Spain’s abortion laws, and 65 percent of PP voters rejected plans to make abortion for foetal deformities illegal, so the government has been nervous about its planned reforms.
The PP was keen to emphasise that under the new laws, which make abortion an offence as it was prior to 1985, women will not be punished if they have an abortion. Doctors carrying out procedures considered illegal could face up to three years in prison.
All of the principal opposition parties have condemned the proposed new legislation, while women´s organisations have predicted the re-emergence of abortion tourism, with many travelling to Britain for operations.
Since the more liberal 2010 laws were passed, the number of abortions in Spain has barely increased – up by just over 5,000 to 118,359 in 2011.