MADRID – A bill authorizing abortion on demand until the 14th week of pregnancy for women 16 and older was approved Wednesday in the Spanish Senate, clearing the way for the measure to become law.
The vote was 132-126 with one abstention.
Accordingly, the reform will go into effect within four months, after its publication in the official gazette.
In the presence of several Cabinet ministers, Sen. Leire Pajin said that the law is a “mature proposal” that arrived in the Senate after years of “reflection and meetings.”
Pajin, who is secretary of the governing Socialist Party, said that the basis of the bill was, above all, “listening” to women’s organizations, representatives of some of which were present for Wednesday’s debate and vote.
Meanwhile, at the doors of the Senate chamber several anti-abortion groups congregated after last week having delivered more than a million signatures of people opposed to the bill.
Speaking for the main opposition conservative Popular Party, Sen. Carmen Dueñas accused the Socialists of “imposing free abortion on Spanish society.”
The new law permits abortion on demand until the 14th week of pregnancy, or until the 22nd week if there is risk to the life or health of the woman or serious anomalies in the fetus, as certified by two qualified physicians other than the one who would terminate the pregnancy.
The law replaces the current legislation dating to 1985, which decriminalized abortion in cases of rape, serious deformations of the fetus and damage to the physical and psychiatric health of the mother.
Health Ministry figures show that in 2009, 115,812 women – 3.27 percent more than in 2008 – underwent procedures to voluntarily terminate their pregnancies in Spain, and of those 10,221 were between 16 and 18 years of age.
In 1985, the Abortion Law was one of the most important legislative changes in Spain, where abortion had always been illegal except for a brief period under the republic toppled by Gen. Francisco Franco in the 1936-1939 civil war. EFE