[JURIST] Thousands of Spaniards gathered Sunday to protest recently approved changes [JURIST report] to Spain's abortion [JURIST news archive] laws. Protesters marched in cities across Spain to protest the new law [El Pais report, in Spanish], which will allow abortion up to 14 weeks in most cases. Organizers [advocacy website] in Madrid estimated that as many as 600,000 people [press release, in Spanish] took part in the protests. Pro-life activists urged the conservative Popular Party (PP) [party website, in Spanish] to make good on promises to seek the law's repeal. The new law, set to take effect on July 5, replaces the current law dating back to 1985, which allowed abortions only in the case of rape, up to 12 weeks, severe fetal malformation, up to 22 weeks, or if the woman's physical or mental health was in danger.
The Spanish Senate [official website, in Spanish] gave final approval to the law last month. Spain's lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies [official website, in Spanish], passed the bill in December after it received approval [JURIST reports] from the Council of State in September. In October, hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied in Madrid [JURIST report] in opposition to the proposed legislation. The changes were proposed [JURIST report] last March by a panel of legal and medical experts led by Minister of Equality Bibiano Aido [official website, in Spanish], eliciting widespread protests [JURIST report] throughout Spain. The panel was formed [JURIST report] in September 2008 at the request of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero [official profile, in Spanish] as part of a series of social reforms that have included same-sex marriage [JURIST report] and streamlined divorce proceedings. The PP has repeatedly expressed the opinion [El Pais report, in Spanish] that relaxed abortion laws would stand in opposition to Article 15 of the Spanish Constitution [text, PDF], which guarantees the right to life.