The New, Progressive Spain

Elisabeth Garber-Paul

Legalized abortion in Catholic Spain?  Maybe the times really are changing.

Legalized abortion in Catholic Spain?  Maybe the times really are changing.

Encouraging reports surfaced last month of a proposed change to Spain’s strict 1985 abortion law, which allows women to end pregnancies up to 12 weeks in cases of rape and 22 weeks in cases of fetal malformation—or at any point, if a doctor believes the woman’s physical or mental health is in danger at any point during the pregnancy, they can authorize the procedure.

And today brought another step towards Spanish women gaining the right to choose. According to the AP, a government-appointed panel of experts announced the specifics of the legislation—which would give women the power to end a pregnancy for any reason during the first trimester. It would allow abortion "on demand up to 14 weeks, and up to 22 weeks if a doctor certifies a serious threat to the health of the mother or malformation of the fetus."

Not surprisingly, the proposed law has the Vatican up in arms.

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"For Pope Benedict XVI, who has staked his three-year-old papacy on keeping Europe Catholic, Spain, with its 90 percent Catholic population and rich history, represents a last hope in an increasingly irreligious continent," said a report in the International Herald Tribune. "That hope is quickly disappearing." In December, the Pope organized rallies in Madrid that were "in favor of the family"—and against gay marriage—to try and show some Catholic muscle in the increasingly secular country.

Much of this progressive change can be credited to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, says Britain’s Telegraph.

"Since coming to power in 2004 his socialist government has legalized gay marriage, eased divorce laws and dropped religious education from the curriculum in public schools, all measures which have deeply angered church leaders."

Looks like a Spain is finally following in its European neighbors’ footsteps, despite cries from the Church. A secularized Spain? Better late than never.

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