Spain constitutional court to hear challenge to new abortion law

[JURIST] The Spanish Constitutional Court [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday agreed to consider whether recently-approved changes [JURIST report] to Spain's abortion [JURIST news archive] laws are constitutional. Under the new law, abortions performed in the first 14 weeks of gestation are declared a right [CP report], and abortions are allowed until 22 weeks if the mother's life is in danger. Spain's conservative Popular Party (PP) [party website, in Spanish] filed the challenge [JURIST report] earlier this month, contending that the new law violates Article 15 of the Spanish Constitution [text, PDF] which states, "Everyone has the right to life and to physical and moral integrity, and under no circumstances may be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment." They argue that the fetus is entitled to the same rights as the mother, which includes the right to life, and that right can only be taken away in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger. The new law, scheduled to go into 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 court has given the government three days to present arguments [El Pais report, in Spanish] on whether the implementation of the law should be suspended while the court deliberates on the constitutional issues presented.

The Spanish Senate [official website, in Spanish] gave final approval to the bill in February. 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. 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. Pro-life activists actively protested the new law and had previously encouraged [JURIST reports] the PP to make good on a promise to seek the bill's repeal. 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.

 

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