Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Why, Gallardón?

Abortion being what it is, an intimate and traumatic thing, nobody goes about provoking the rage of church people by boasting of having had one

Elvira Lindo

Yes, why? It was not a burning issue. Abortion being what it is, an intimate and traumatic thing, nobody goes about provoking the rage of church people by boasting of having had one. A woman may type, cook, sweep, or pick up her children from school, even as she still feels the pain in her belly. A young woman may come home from her classes at college, tell her mother she isn't feeling well, and go to bed. This painful and depressing operation takes place, almost secretly, in many different walks of life.

These women are among us; they are us. It is fairly certain that you, who judge them so implacably, are on social terms with one. Even the individual who invented the cruel front page of La Gaceta, where an endearing baby with Down's syndrome appears under the headline "Killing is once again a crime in Spain," must have, in his family, his office, his circle of friends, some of these silent women.

Quite possibly Mr Gallardón rubs elbows with these women every day - the same Gallardón who always used to flirt breezily with artists, writers and a few show-business figures, in the role of the mayor who wants to be fair to all the city's people; the sophisticated, well-read young man, who gravitated into the party of the right out of mere family reasons, so as not to defy his parents' wishes.

What a mistake not to trust appearances - which, as we know, never deceive. The sinuous mayor had who and what he was written all over him in that marked, haughty Madrileño accent that divides the city in two: those who have and those who don't. Those who have are far fewer in number, a nucleus adorned with illustrious surnames, constituting a granitic minority who transmit their powers genetically, and are as unaware of the other Madrid as the other Madrid is unaware of them. I, who came from a quarter where the middle classes dwell, never met anyone who spoke like that until I was 20. I had always thought that this form of speech was an exaggeration used by people trying to be funny.

The sinuous mayor had who and what he was written all over him in that marked, haughty Madrileño accent

So, why? And why now? I doubt if it will garner many votes, in a land where, so far, there is no party further to the right than the PP. The question is, why get your hands so dirty with a new law that goes against a tangible social reality? Those who say they are in the know say that the minister, deep inside, doesn't really believe in his abortion law.

So here we are again. Gallardón is that sort of politician who, in his every move, rates a paragraph of psychological analysis in the media: is the minister really this sort of man, or has he been pushed to it by the religious fanatics behind the scenes, so that he, out of desire to show he is made of the right stuff, has done this without really being convinced of it? But this is more than a bellyful of theory. Given the gravity of his law and its possible consequences, what does it matter what goes on in this politician's head?

Columnists often work a theme to death, but in this case I doubt the debate will end here. The deplorable consequences of punishing doctors with jail terms, or obliging a woman to give birth to a gravely deformed child, are very much present in your mind and mine, and in all the sane media. For the moment, the regressive law has made news for Spain in the European press, where it has not been forgotten that under Franco's regime women were treated as minors, who could not have a passport or travel without their husband's say-so.

Some politicians are forgiven their errors. This will not be the case with Gallardón. Years from now, there will always be a woman to ask him, why? Perhaps she will ask it only with a look - for, as we know, women's eyes hide secrets. What a pity to go down in history as the man who failed to see what was there in front of his eyes.

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