Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, our justice minister, wants to populate the church steps with cripples. Scenes that we remember from childhood; scenes that come back to haunt us when we visit some land where such misery still reigns. Legless children, or armless, or blind, or lame, or paralyzed, who whine to you for alms, rattling a tin with a few coppers in it.
The justice minister has taken a firm stand: these children, whose inevitable misery can now almost always be diagnosed in time, are going to have the right and obligation to live out this life, to which he will condemn them, if his plan goes ahead. Exaggeration? No, because his announcements include no mention of anything in the nature of caring for those lives, or supporting them.
More than 50 percent of young Spanish women (who will presumably have children) are now unemployed. Should one of these girls become pregnant, she will find she has not only the right, but the obligation to give birth to a child, whatever the circumstances. And if the child has irreversible defects, he will have to live with them all his life. Because the state, Gallardón's state, guarantees the right to birth, but not to a decent life.
The minister declares that what he is defending is in fact a progressive measure. And if you get into the wrong taxi you may hear, on a radio tuned to a station of the rabid religious right, a talk show with angry barking voices explaining how the Nazis ran a eugenics program called Aktion T4, in which they put to death not only Jews, but pure Aryans who happened to have physical or mental defects. An argument of this type is a dishonest ruse, concealing the fact that this was done to people who had already been born, or were even grown up.
She will find she has not only the right, but the obligation to give birth to a child, whatever the circumstances
This has nothing to do with a debate that is purely ideological: that is, whether a fetus can be considered a person. For the Spanish Church, and for the pious minister, abortion is a murder, a crime worse than the pedophilia of which they are so tolerant.
Many Spanish women have struggled for years to achieve a time-limit law on abortion, the only possible kind that respects the rights of the pregnant woman.
Until this law was passed, in the teeth of the bishops and of violent reactionaries such as the minister, they had to pretend to be insane in order to abort within the law. A psychiatrist had to decide whether their head was going to function properly or not, in the case of going through with an undesired pregnancy. For many years after 1985, Spanish society had been keeping up a distasteful farce, until the time-limit law came in.
Since the new law was enacted in 2010, women have been free to decide during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Without any priest or shrink in the picture; and, surprise surprise, without any increase in abortions. The difference is that the ladies who have aborted have not had to go through the motions of pretending to be mentally unstable. It has been enough for them to show their decision, claiming their right to manage their body as they wish.
There are more surprises: some 38 percent of practicing Catholics accept this law, for example. And a majority of Spanish people support the time-limit law, as opposed to the previous law of 1985, of "justifying circumstances." This is the law the minister wishes to take us back to, but with severe corrections that place the rights of the five-minute-old fetus over those of the adult mother.
This defender of the right to life is being cheered on by hooligans such as Interior Minister Jorge Fernández, who has compared abortion with the terrorism of ETA, and the bishop of Alcalá, Antonio Reig Plà. They are men of firm convictions, and wish to populate the church steps with mad women and crippled children.