ABORTION DEBATE

Rajoy hints at possible U-turn on controversial abortion reform

Fetal deformities may now be included as grounds for terminating a pregnancy

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday told Congress that the ruling conservative Popular Party will continue with plans for a controversial reform of the abortion law reverting to a system based on specific grounds as was the case of 1985 legislation, which was replaced by abortion on demand by the last Socialist government.

However, Rajoy let it be understood that the government could do a U-turn on initial plans to exclude the existence of fetal deformity as one of the reason for authorizing terminations, which was one of the grounds under Spain’s first abortion law.

Rajoy defended the 1985 legislation but said there would be differences from it. These would include that a woman will never face criminal charges for an illegal abortion, juveniles could take the decision to abort with the approval of their parents, and that social and clinical advice would be made available to women who are considering an abortion.

Justice Ministry sources said any changes to the proposals put forward in Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón’s draft bill depend on the non-binding expert reports the government had requested. No decision has been taken yet on the inclusion of fetal deformity as one of the grounds for an abortion, they said.

The is the first time in Congress that Rajoy has opened the door for a possible about-turn on some of the drastic restrictions included in the proposals put forward by Ruiz-Gallardón, which only allow for terminations in the situation of rape and a serious risk to the mother’s health.

The current law, passed in 2010, allows abortion on demand up to 14 weeks and thereafter up to 22 weeks on certain grounds. The 2010 law also allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to abort without their parents’ knowledge under certain circumstances.

Gallardón’s draft bill has sparked fierce criticism and has also caused a rift within the PP itself. Deputy congressional speaker Celia Villalobos broke with party discipline last week in voting in favor of an opposition motion in Congress calling for Gallardón's bill to be withdrawn.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday told Congress that the ruling conservative Popular Party will continue with plans for a controversial reform of the abortion law reverting to a system based on specific grounds as was the case of 1985 legislation, which was replaced by abortion on demand by the last Socialist government.

However, Rajoy let it be understood that the government could do a U-turn on initial plans to exclude the existence of fetal deformity as one of the reason for authorizing terminations, which was one of the grounds under Spain’s first abortion law.

Rajoy defended the 1985 legislation but said there would be differences from it. These would include that a woman will never face criminal charges for an illegal abortion, juveniles could take the decision to abort with the approval of their parents, and that social and clinical advice would be made available to women who are considering an abortion.

Justice Ministry sources said any changes to the proposals put forward in Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón’s draft bill depend on the non-binding expert reports the government had requested. No decision has been taken yet on the inclusion of fetal deformity as one of the grounds for an abortion, they said.

The is the first time in Congress that Rajoy has opened the door for a possible about-turn on some of the drastic restrictions included in the proposals put forward by Ruiz-Gallardón, which only allow for terminations in the situation of rape and a serious risk to the mother’s health.

The current law, passed in 2010, allows abortion on demand up to 14 weeks and thereafter up to 22 weeks on certain grounds. The 2010 law also allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to abort without their parents’ knowledge under certain circumstances.

Gallardón’s draft bill has sparked fierce criticism and has also caused a rift within the PP itself. Deputy congressional speaker Celia Villalobos broke with party discipline last week in voting in favor of an opposition motion in Congress calling for Gallardón's bill to be withdrawn.