On Saturday around a million people gathered in the plaza de Independencia in Madrid to protest against the Spanish government’s new abortion law.
I say a million because one of the organisers, HazteOir, claimed 1.5 million, the Madrid authority 1.2 million whilst the police estimated 250,000 – however the consensus seems to be around the million mark and not surprisingly the protest made headlines around the world.
The new law would allow girls of 16 to have an abortion without their parents’ consent or even knowing about it. For many who support abortion this is a step too far.
Other provisions of the proposed abortion law, approved by the cabinet last month, would allow the procedure on demand for women of 16 and over up to the 14th week of pregnancy, and up to 22 weeks if there was a risk to the mother's health or if the foetus was deformed. Women could also undergo the procedure after 22 weeks if the foetus had a serious or incurable illness.
In my past blogs I have made my beliefs very clear. I do not support abortion except where the woman’s life or health is endangered or in cases of incest or rape. I do not believe abortion should be used as a belated form of contraception. I believe the unborn foetus has rights even if it doesn’t have a vote – and it is our duty to defend those rights.
I also accept and respect the fact that others have very different beliefs than my own although Spain seems to be very much divided on the subject.
An opinion poll published in ABC newspaper ahead of the protest said 42 percent of Spaniards believed there was no overwhelming popular support for the abortion reforms, compared to 38 percent who believed there was. Earlier polls had shown many 56 per cent of socialists who support the PSOE government were very unhappy over allowing 16 year olds to be able to have an abortion without their parents’ knowledge or consent against 64 per cent opposition across the board.
I am happy enough that HazteOir and other associations including those with Catholic links staged this demonstration and are running on-going campaigns. Of course for most Catholics abortion is a red-line issue but I would prefer to see the laity taking the lead rather than pronouncements from the Bishop’s palace.
However what makes me uneasy is that the opposition Partido Popular has taken up the issue. I suspect it sees it as another stick to beat the government with. As there are socialists who are for and against the new law so too the members of the PP must be divided amongst themselves.
This should not be a political issue but a moral one hence when it comes to a vote in the Spanish Parliament the MPs should act in line with their conscience and not according to the orders of PSOE’s Zapatero or PP’s Rajoy.