Saturday, May 16, 2009

SPAIN: “Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy and Sexual and Reproductive Health” Bill passed, a law “rejected by an evident majority of citizens”

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Madrid (Agenzia Fides) – Without arriving at any kind of consensus with the opposition and denying the scientific evidence that exists on life's beginning, the Council of Ministers yesterday approved the draft-bill of the Law on "Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy and Sexual and Reproductive Health" which gives women the right to unrestricted abortion until the 14th week of gestation and up until the 22nd in case of risk to the life or health of the mother or severe abnormalities of the child. The new law (when placed in effect) will substitute the present law that has been effective since 1985 and that allowed abortion in cases of rape, severe malformations of the fetus, and damage to the physical or psychological health of the mother. The bill also establishes that girls 16 and up may decide on their own voluntary termination of pregnancy.

According to the Minister of Equality, Bibiana Aido, until the 14th week of gestation the woman will be free to decide whether or not to terminate the pregnancy after having received, at least 3 days prior to the scheduled abortion, information on her rights and available help should she decide to continue on with her pregnancy. The woman will be able to terminate the pregnancy up until the 22nd week, only in the case of risk to the life or health of the mother or on account of severe abnormalities of the fetus. In both cases, there should be 2 "second opinions" signed by medical specialists in addition to those who will perform the abortion. From this time period (22 weeks), only a multi-disciplinary medical team will be able to authorize an abortion desired by the mother when there is a discovery of fetal abnormalities that are incompatible with life or an extremely grave or incurable disease. The text of the bill establishes that no woman will be imprisoned on account of terminating her pregnancy.

The Minister also mentioned that the bill was the result of the "most possible consensus" as it had produced "a large debate in Parliament in which the voices of deputies, experts, social organizations, youth, women, and professionals were all heard." However, according to many associations working in defense of life, their voices were barely heard and the "Madrid Manifesto," a document in which over 1,000 scientists affirmed that life begins at conception, was not taken into account.

According to a study done by "Sigma 2" and presented by the group "Right to Live," the law is rejected by a clear majority of citizens. In fact, 43.1 percent of the women reject the terms of the law, versus a 34.3% who are in favor. In the entirety of the population, 40.5% reject it versus 36.7%. The "Sigma 2" study, with a maximum error of 3.16%, shows that there is not, in fact, any social demand for this reform which is rejected by the majority of citizens. It also shows that the initiative is strongly rejected by women, versus the support it receives from men, thus proving that the government claim that the law favors women is unfounded.

The Secretary General of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, upon the request of the Executive Committee that met yesterday in response to the alarming news of the over-the-counter sale of the "morning after" pill in pharmacies and without age limit, has once more made public the guidelines that the Bishops have been issuing since 1998. On June 18, 1998, the document "Abortion using a pill is also a crime," was published. The text clarified that the use of an abortifacient is just as immoral of an act as a surgical operation," as it implies the death of an innocent human being. Months later, in October of the same year, the Permanent Committee published a note entitled "The pill also kills." In December of 2000, the Sub-Committee for the Family and Defense of Life of the Spanish Bishops' Conference published a note on "The Morning After Pill" which they described as "an authentic abortive technique." On April 27, 2001, the same Committee published: "The Morning After Pill, A New Threat Against Life."

(RG) (Agenzia Fides 15/5/2009)

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