PROTESTERS have taken to the streets across Europe in their thousands to express their disgust at the proposed overhaul of Spanish abortion laws.
Tens of thousands descended on Madrid on Saturday to denounce the Spanish government’s plan to outlaw abortion except in cases of rape, severe foetal deformity and when the pregnancy will compromise the health of the mother.
Solidarity protests were also held in Rome, Lisbon, Paris and Hannover, after more than 2000 people had gathered outside the Spanish embassy in Brussels on January 29.
Many protesters were dressed in purple – a colour symbolising feminism – and carried banners with slogans such as “We give birth, we decide” and “Abortion has no place in criminal law”.
Further rallies are planned in London and Reykjavik this Saturday.
Speaking at the party conference of the centre-right Partido Popular on Saturday, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, Spain minister of justice, who proposed the reforms, said: “You have my word that neither insult nor cry shall make this minister rescind his commitment to fulfilling the policy of regulating the rights of women and of pregnancy.”
The government of Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, approved on 20 December a proposal to limit abortions to cases where the mother-to-be is in physical or psychological danger or is the victim of a rape (if corroborated by the police). Women would not be punished for illegal abortions, though doctors could go to jail for up to three years.
Abortion in Spain is currently legal upon request within the first three months of pregnancy, as well as later on in the pregnancy subject to certain legal conditions.
The reforms have caused significant controversy in Spain, where critics of the proposal accuse the government of taking Spain’s abortion laws back to the 1980s, when the first liberalisation of Franco-ist laws were introduced. A law of 1985 reformed Spain’s Franco-era abortion laws by allowing them in cases of physical danger to the mother-to-be, rape and malformations of the foetus.