Spain’s highly controversial abortion law has been passed by the lower house of parliament – Congress – but it is still making its way through the Senate. However the Ley del Aborto has already opened up old wounds between the Catholic Church and the ruling socialist party.
This situation has come about because of the decision by the Catholic Church hierarchy to ban a leading member of the PSOE government from receiving communion. José Bono is a staunch Catholic but he is also president of the lower house of Spain’s parliament. In an interview with the daily newspaper, El Mundo, he voiced his support for the new law which he voted in favour of when it was approved by Congress in December.
Bono argued in the interview that he supported the new law because he understood that it would reduce the number of abortions and that, according to the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, “politicians can vote for laws governing abortion if they believe that they are reducing the evil it causes.”
However the Spanish Episcopal Conference has refuted this thesis. In a letter to El Mundo the bishops state that this Encyclical allows a Catholic to vote for an abortion law that reduces the injustice of the current legislation but the politician is obliged to vote against any law which does not adequately protect the inviolable right to life of those who are yet to be born.
The Catholic Church in Spain feels itself under attack by the very liberal PSOE administration of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on numerous fronts including abortion, divorce, gay rights and education. In recent history the church was closely associated with the dictatorship of Franco and hence generations of distrust have grown up between it and those on the left of Spanish politics.
The vice secretary general of PSOE, José Blanco, waded in to the battle after the church barred Bono from receiving communion. He has accused the church of “hypocrisy” pointing out that it took no action against members of the former Partido Popular government of José María Aznar that introduced the present abortion law.
Bono accused the Catholic Church of “a permanent contradiction” because it didn’t deny communion “to members of the government of the right under whom in our country there have been over 500,000 abortions.”
Thus the fight over the right to life of the unborn child has descended in to old animosities with socialists believing that the church favours its allies on the right above those on the left – even devout Catholics such as PSOE’s José Bono.