A new law came into force on Thursday which stops women going for an abortion being harassed by demonstrators outside clinics in Spain.

The measure came into force on Thursday a day after the law was published in Spain’s Official State Bulletin (BOE).

Spain’s penal code has been amended resulting in anti-abortion demonstrators facing a year-long prison term if they try to convince women not to terminate their pregnancies.

In practice under Spanish law, a jail sentence of two years and under is not enforced for a first-time offender, but the code change also allows for community service as an alternative penalty.

The measure states that anybody trying ‘to impede a woman from exercising her right to voluntarily interrupt pregnancy’ through ‘bothersome, offensive, intimidating or threatening acts’ faces prosecution.

The ban also applies to the harassment or intimidation of health staff at abortion clinics.

Anti-abortion campaigners say they are simply praying outside clinics.

Demonstrators from the anti-abortion group, Right to Life, gathered outside the parliament in Madrid last week when the change was announced.

Spokesperson, Inmaculada Fernandez, said: “Praying is not a crime and we will continue to pray and offer our help to all those women who need it so that they can see that abortion is not the only solution.”

“More than 6,000 children were born last year thanks to the help of pro-life groups and none of the mothers regretted giving birth,” she added.

The national government also has plans to ensure that all public hospitals will offer abortions and that teenagers aged 16 and 17 can get a termination without parental permission.

Many women in Spain have to use private clinics for abortions as ‘most’ obstetricians and gynaecologists in the public health systems refuse to carry out terminations, according to the OMC doctors’ association.

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