Abortion rights to women in Spain

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Abortion rights to women in Spain

A new liberal law has been proposed in Spain about abortion. What were the reactions to the new law?

New law proposal on abortion in Spain

A new law has been proposed in Spain that will make contraception free. In addition, the law states that 16- and 17-year-olds will no longer need parental consent to get an abortion. Furthermore, the current law which requires an abortion to be carried out up to the 14th week of pregnancy, with a reflection period of three days, will change. This new law has led to numerous controversies in the country.[1] [2] [3] [4]

Criticism of the law

The Spanish Episcopal Conference published a ‘Doctrinal Note’ in which they state the need for Catholics to oppose laws that facilitate abortion and euthanasia. The note states clearly that Catholics must object abortion. It adds that this law disregards religious freedom and thinking and is based on “ideologies that do not recognise the nature of being human.” The Conference also sought to warn Catholic politicians that they should not vote in favour of laws that do not value human life.[5]

Moreover, the Archbishop of Merida, Celso Morga, called on the Spanish government to ensure that women who are considering an abortion are supported economically so that they can keep their child. Morga did stress that there should not be a “social insensibility” towards the “drama” that faces women, “many of them young,” who face the “dilemma” of abortion. However, he pointed to the idea that new legislation that makes it possible for 16- and 17-year-olds to have abortions without the consent of their parents would worsen the “demographic winter” that Spain is facing, “with birth rates hitting historic lows.”[6]

The bishop of Málaga, Jesus Catala, also joined the widespread criticism of the new legislation. Catala stated that the Church protects human life and that humans are not allowed to kill other humans, even through an abortion. Catala recalled the history of the Church, stating that “for 2,000 years, it has been in favour of life,” adding that this included “human life at any stage, from conception, not from birth, and until a natural death.”[7]

The Cardinal of Madrid also spoke out against the new law. He posted on Twitter and stated that individuals should protect life from its beginning to the end and should not make laws against life. He added that “abortion is a failure” and expressed his concern that “we continue making it more available instead of supporting motherhood.”[8]

The Cardinal of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, stated during a speech that this new law is against life. During an event held at the Catholic University of Valencia, university officials also spoke out against the changes to abortion laws.[9]

Finally, the Secretary-General of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Luis Argüello, said that the new legislation was “bad news” and called for a “step forwards” for both society and Spain in the “defence of life and supporting pregnant women.” Argüello published a video in which he said that we should defend life at all cost as this defence is at the base of civilisation and is a moral red line that should not be crossed.[10]

The role of Facebook

In the meantime, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s research team conducted research on Facebook on the topic of abortion. It emerged that many pages with millions of followers in Spanish “repeatedly spread medically inaccurate information about abortion” without any intervention from Facebook.[11] This was described by the researchers as a “crisis of Spanish-language misinformation that’s slipping through the cracks.” They stated: “What’s clear here is that anti-choice extremists are capitalizing on social media companies’ failure to moderate Spanish-language disinformation.”[12]

Ambivalence in Spain

It is clear that while the Spanish government is moving towards a certain liberalisation and secularisation, many conservative voices in Spain still oppose abortion, especially in the Catholic Church. Moreover, several social media pages are increasing polarisation on the topic of abortion in Spain. Will conservative and Catholic tendencies prevail, or will rather liberal forces overcome the criticism and liberalise abortion in Spain? Only time will tell.

Ghila Amati

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[1]Spain introduces new law for abortion and menstrual leave, declaring an end to women working in pain

[2]Spain introduces new law for abortion and menstrual leave, declaring an end to women working in pain

[3] Growing Anti-Abortion Movement in Spain Inspires New Legislation | Pulitzer Center

[4]Spain approves new law banning harassment of women going for abortions | Euronews

[5]Los obispos advierten a los católicos españoles que “estamos absolutamente obligados a objetar” ante el aborto y la eutanasia


[7]Jesús Catalá: “Nadie tiene derecho a eliminar una vida humana, eso se llama asesinato”

[8]Carlos Osoro: “El aborto es un fracaso”

[9]Cañizares, ante la Ley del Aborto: “No nos resignemos ante leyes inicuas”

[10]La Iglesia española llama a “dar un paso adelante” para defender la vida frente a la nueva Ley del Aborto

[11]Facebook fails to stop Spanish language anti-abortion disinformation, study says

[12] Translating Abortion Disinformation – The Spanish Language Anti-Choice Landscape