The Socialist government in Spain relaxed the abortion laws giving women the right to terminate a pregnancy up to 14 weeks from conception. In cases where the mother’s health was deemed to be at risk or the foetus was suffering from serious abnormalities, that was extended to 22 weeks.
In 2011, Mariano Rajoy pledged to overturn that legislation if he was elected. Now the right wing factions of the PP are pressurising Mr Rajoy to fulfil that promise. The new legislation will mean that only victims of rape or mothers who are at risk will be allowed an abortion and then only with the consent of two doctors. Once it is passed, it will be the most draconian law in relation to abortion anywhere in the world.
I’d rather not discuss the moral issues of whether this change is right or wrong but I would say that it seems to be setting the clock back to a time when women did not have the same rights that they enjoy now. The rights of the unborn child were well rehearsed decades ago and were decided upon then. To return to that era and revisit those discussions seems to me to be a retrograde step.
Let’s face it, having the right to abortion did not mean you had to go ahead with one. Those that were opposed to the idea had the choice; under the new law, those that want an abortion will have no choice.
The move appears to be political suicide for the PP because polls suggest that between 70 and 80 percent of Spanish citizens oppose the change and there are even members of the party who do not approve. One key factor may be the number of women now in the Spanish administration. Under Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero there were equal numbers of men and women (eight and eight), Mariano Rajoy has only half the number of women in his cabinet.