Thousands of people march in Madrid to protest a government
plan to limit abortions. REUTERS/Javier Barbancho
Spain's Socialists failed today to block an unpopular
draft law restricting women's access to abortions, which has
sparked large protests across the country and caused rare rifts
in the conservative People's Party (PP) that sponsored the
In an unusual secret ballot, which gave its members a chance
to go against the ruling party's line without being exposed,
the PP, with an absolute majority in parliament, was able to
defeat a motion to block the law.
Thousands of people around Spain have joined marches in
recent weeks to show their opposition to the bill, which will
limit abortion to cases of rape or severe danger to the
Several PP politicians have spoken out against the law, which
will make Spain one of the most restrictive countries in
Europe and overturns rules that allow abortions on demand in
the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
But the motion, put forward by the Socialists, was rejected
by 183 votes, with 151 in favour and 6 abstentions.
"If this goes ahead, the number of abortions in Spain will
(still) rise and many of them will be more dangerous
abortions for women," said Elena Valenciano, deputy leader of
the Socialists, told parliament in a debate before the vote.
"Inequality will grow, (and) Spanish women will once again be
divided into two groups: those that can travel to a
neighbouring country and undergo a safe abortion and those
A PP member of parliament defended the party, saying it was
in favour of further debate rather than simply dismissing the
issue, as the Socialists were proposing.
"We are prepared to have a dialogue," Marta Torrado de Castro
The bill will be subject to more discussions in parliament
before being written into law.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's cabinet approved the draft
bill last December in a move widely seen as a bid to soothe
his party's right wing, although the PP has lost ground to
the Socialists in opinion polls since.
Polls show 80 percent of Spaniards, including practicing
Catholics, support abortion on demand.