Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tens of thousands protest against basic women’s rights and reproductive health in Spain

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Abortion has always been a very touchy subject in the heavily Christian Catholic country of Spain. Decriminalized since 1985, women can now have their pregnancies terminated only if they are the result of rape, or if the pregnancy itself poses a real risk to the infant of the mother-to-be’s physical or mental health. Also, pregnancies from rape can only be terminated until the 12th week; pregnancies deemed dangerous, such as due to a fetal malformation, can only be ended until the 22nd week.

Spain’s Socialized government seems to have realized how ridiculous these terms are – for one thing, tons of women don’t even notice that they’re pregnant until relatively late into the pregnancy (and some never even realize it until they actually give birth), at which point the deadline has long since passed – and now, it is trying to pass legislation aimed at easing some of these restrictions, by raising the 12-week limit to 14 weeks, and by lowering the legal age to obtain an abortion without parental consent to 16.

These changes sound perfectly reasonable to me (if not still too restrictive). So, of course, anti-abortion activists have to show their opposition. An estimated crowd of tens of thousands of anti-abortionists flooded the Spanish capital of Madrid in protest, as though the idea of allowing women to get rid of unwanted and potentially harmful pregnancies was a horrible thing that actually merited protest.

The anti-abortion protest, themed "each life is important," began at 5 p.m. in central Madrid and many leading conservative politicians attended, including former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. Local media estimated the crowd in the tens of thousands.

As expected: high on ideology, silent on practicality.

It gets better: some just want to see abortion criminalized altogether, regardless of circumstances or health issues.

Benigno Blanco, director of Spanish Family Forum who organized the protest, told conservative newspaper ABC that "this debate won't end until there's not a single abortion." Blanco was a senior official in Aznar's government.

Rape victims and mothers who would suffer from their dangerous pregnancies would appreciate the show of compassion, I’m sure.

Thankfully, though, chances are good that the bill will pass anyway, although it may take until early next spring before the law comes into effect.

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