Justice minister confirms “psychological damage” will be retained in abortion law

Ruiz-Gallardón says severe fetal abnormality will remain as a legal reason to abort

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón has confirmed that one of the key elements of the 1985 Abortion Law will be retained in the reform being formulated by the government: “risk of psychological damage to the mother” will remain as a legal reason to terminate a pregnancy.

Previously, Gallardón had only gone so far as to say that the new law would be loosely based on 1985 legislation, thus removing the 2010 deadlines introduced by the Socialists. Of the three legal 1985 requirements for an abortion, Gallardón stressed that rape would be maintained but fetal abnormality would not.

The minister did not elaborate on what exactly would constitute a physical or psychological risk, which was not subject to deadlines under the 1985 law. If accredited by a doctor, a termination could be carried out at any time. Risk of psychological damage was the reason most used for abortions up to 2010, when the Socialist-backed reform allowed women to abort at up to 14 weeks for any reason, and 22 weeks in the case of risk to the mother.

Gallardón said on Wednesday that severe fetal abnormality will be included in the reform as a legal reason to abort but “disability” would not. Of 118,359 abortions carried out in Spain in 2011, only three percent were due to fetal problems. Of those, 356 were considered to be serious or incurable abnormalities — statistics similar to those under the 1985 law.

The minister said the new law will “resolve difficult situations for women” but comply with international commitments to rights for disabled people.

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