Abortion bill minister: Voters “punish” divided parties and those who sow discord

Congress defeats measure to withdraw controversial reform in a 183-to-158 vote

Madrid - Feb 12, 2014 - 12:26

A day after a measure to withdraw the controversial abortion law reform was defeated, the bill’s architect, Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, explained on Wednesday that voters usually “punish” political parties when they note internal divisions.

Speaking in Congress about Tuesday night’s secret vote in which his Popular Party (PP) warned its members not to break rank and vote in favor of the petition, Gallardón warned that the Socialists, who had called the vote, would also be punished at the polls for seeking to try to break up the ruling party.

Deputies defeated a call to withdraw the bill in a 183-to-158 vote. Six members of parliament abstained in the secret ballot.

“When a party has arguments, it should put them on the table for discussion, and not try to sow discord and try to divide the rest because that isn’t elegant when it comes to politics,” he said.

PP first deputy speaker Celia Villalobos: “Of course the party’s solidarity isn’t real”

The Socialists had pushed for a confidential vote among lawmakers after several PP deputies came out publicly against abortion reform. PP leaders issued stern warnings to the parliamentary bloc not to break ranks.

Still, some influential PP officials, such as Celia Villalobos, who serves as first deputy speaker in Congress, hoped that the abortion reform bill would eventually be defeated.

When asked in the halls of Congress whether the PP’s solidarity on Tuesday was authentic, Villalobos said: “Of course it isn’t real.”

But she also attacked the Socialists for trying to push PP members to betray their own party in a “fraudulent manner.”

The reform proposes to restrict a woman’s right to obtaining an abortion by limiting the reasons permitting the procedure. The number of clinics authorized to perform abortions will be reduced and pregnancy interruptions will only be accepted in cases of rape or if the woman’s health is at serious risk.

Fetal deformity will no longer be an option as it is in the current legislation.

The bill is expected to be debated in the coming days.

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