On Friday, 20 December, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved a draft bill restricting abortion. This draft bill presented by Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardon strictly controls abortion which will be authorised in only two case scenarios: up to 22 weeks if the physical or psychological health of the mother is at risk – a fact that must be medically confirmed by two medical professionals, and up to 12 weeks in the case of confirmed rape. The bill also requires parental authorisation with regard to minors. In all other cases, abortion will constitute a criminal offence.
Contrary to the legislation in force between 1985 and 2010, foetal deformity is no longer considered grounds for an abortion, as explained by the Justice Minister: "A foetal handicap per se is not considered grounds for an abortion provided that the handicap is not incompatible with life". "Down Syndrome, for example, is not deemed sufficient grounds" unless two doctors confirm that this disorder would pose a psychological risk to the mother.
This draft bill reviews the law passed in July 2010 authorising abortion up to 14 weeks “without having to give a reason
” and up to 22 weeks when the mother’s health is at risk and/or in the event of serious foetal anomalies. Thus, in 2011, out of the 118,365 women who had an abortion, 85% of them did so in the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy without stating a reason.
"This bill constitutes a major advance, taking into account the mother’s interests and defending the unborn child," explained the Minister. As far as the President of the Right to Life Association is concerned, this draft bill is "a step in the right direction" but he is concerned that "the physical or psychological risk to the mother will once again constitute an excuse for an abortion".
In France, whilst the government bill for equality between men and women aimed at including a right to abortion will be debated in the Assembly in mid-January, reactions are coming through thick and fast. Najat Vallaud Belkacem is said to be "shocked" and mentioned "her major concerns" regarding women’s rights "which are never granted". As for the Socialist Party, it has expressed "its anger": "This draft bill poses extremely tight restrictions on the right to abortion, the sole aim being to get rid of abortion once and for all".