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Spain: Government Withdraws Proposed Legislation Amending Abortion Law

(Oct. 16, 2014) On September 23, 2014, Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, confirmed the withdrawal of a proposal submitted by the government to amend the country’s 2010 abortion legislation, because the government did not have the consensus needed to pass the amendment. (Rajoy Confirma la Retirada de la Ley del Aborto de Gallardón, ABC.ES (Sept. 23, 2014).)

The failed reform draft had been approved by the Cabinet on December 20, 2013, but did not garner enough support and was almost unanimously rejected by the opposition political parties, as well as by members of the government’s own party who reportedly viewed the issue as a problem for the 2015 general elections. (Rajoy Confirma la Retirada de la Ley del Aborto por Falta de Consenso, EL PAIS (Sept. 23, 2014).)

The proposal would have seen the requirements for a legal pregnancy termination return to the legal standards in force in the 1980s. It would have eliminated the right to voluntary abortion up until the 14th week of pregnancy, returning to a system in which an abortion would only be allowed in cases of rape, serious fetal malformation, or risk to the mother’s health. (Id.)

The most controversial aspect of the failed proposal was a provision that would not allow fetal malformation as an unconditional ground to request an abortion. In practice, abortion would have been permitted when the fetus had malformations incompatible with life and was not viable, but with an additional requirement that the pregnant woman would have to assert that there would be psychological damage to the mother in order to proceed with the termination, entailing a lengthy and complicated process. (Id.)

Rajoy declared that his government now would only seek to reform the current law to guarantee that 16- and 17-year olds will need the consent of their parents before a pregnancy may be terminated. He also announced a new plan, called the “Family Protection Plan,” that will be launched before the end of the year. (Id.)