Controversial abortion reform expected to be cleared by Cabinet

New law will remove time-period element and return to a scenario system Under-18s will need consent to terminate

The Cabinet is expected to approve its controversial Abortion Law reform Friday. It is widely expected that the new legislation will be based on the 1985 law, which was softened in a 2010 reform carried out by the previous Socialist government.

Several opposition parties, headed by the Socialists, and feminist groups have pledged to lead a backlash against the bill, which will have to pass through Congress and the Senate in the coming months. They argue that more restrictive laws will not reduce the number of abortions, but will lead to an increase in unsafe terminations. At the other end of the spectrum, pro-life groups called on the government to draw up a "zero abortion" law, prohibiting terminations in any circumstances, calling the 1985 system of exceptions "a sieve."

Under the 2010 law, women can choose to abort at any time up to 14 weeks of gestation. Between weeks 15 and 22 a termination can only be medically authorized if there is a health risk to the mother or the fetus. After 22 weeks, only incurable fetal anomalies can result in a medical report recommending termination.

Around 120,000 abortions are carried out in Spain each year

The new law will remove the time-period element and return to a scenario system, which under the 1985 law included rape, fetal malformation and health risks to mother or child. What is not yet known is whether these will be retained or others introduced. Until now, everything has suggested there will be fewer scenarios.

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said earlier this year that "psychological damage" to the mother will be retained in the new law, but it is not clear if this will be the case. What will be struck from the 2010 law is the right of minors to abort without parental consent, which was the case if there was a risk of family conflict. Around 120,000 abortions are carried out in Spain each year, 90 percent of which take place within the 14-week limit. That figure has remained unaltered under both the 1985 and 2010 legislation.

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