Spain: revolt in Rajoy's ranks over harsh anti-abortion bill

PP congressional deputy speaker dissents, calls for secret vote

08 January, 19:30

    Activists support new stricter abortion law in Spain Activists support new stricter abortion law in Spain

    (by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) - MADRID- The rift within the ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) over its controversial proposed abortion law reform greatly restricting the right to terminate pregnancy grew on Wednesday after a key figure in the group called for a free vote on the issue in Parliament.

    ''I represent many who dissent with the proposed reform'', Congressional Deputy Speaker Celia Villalobos, a liberal PP member who has voted in favor of same-sex marriage in the past, told the party's national executive committee before calling for voting secrecy.

    The bill by Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, which has been dubbed the 'rights of the unborn and of pregnant women law', would vacate legislation passed under the previous Socialist administration and return to 1985 legislation criminalizing abortion except in cases of threat to the mother's life, as certified by three doctors, and rape.

    The bill would also ban abortion in cases of severe fetal malformations, except when the malformation is ''incompatible with life'', and force underage girls to obtain parental consent. Doctors who perform abortions anyway would be prosecuted, and women illegally terminating unwanted pregnancies would be fined.

    A 2011 electoral promise made in an effort to win ultraconservative voters, the bill could easily pass in Parliament, where the conservative Mariano Rajoy administration holds an absolute majority. However, it not only sparked an outcry throughout Europe as well as from the Spanish opposition, doctors, and women's rights organizations, but has also thrown the PP ranks into disarray.

    The governors of Castilla y Leon, Estremadura, Galicia, and La Rioja reportedly all declared their opposition to the bill at today's PP executive meeting, calling for further debate or even for a postponement until the Constitutional Court rules on a PP suit brought under the previous Zapatero government. ''The debate has been fruitful'', PP Secretary-General Maria Dolores de Cospedal told reporters after the meeting. A secret vote on the bill, however, is ''out of the question'', she said. (ANSAmed).

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