[JURIST] Spain has created a panel of legal and health experts to consider liberalizing the country's current abortion laws, Equality Minister Bibiana Aido [personal blog, in Spanish; TypicallySpanish backgrounder] told reporters [government release, in Spanish] on Thursday. Abortion was legalized in the country in 1985, but only in cases of rape, developmental defect of the fetus, or certification that the pregnancy posed a psychological or physical heath risk to the mother. Aido did not provide specific details on the changes sought, but said they were necessary because of discrepancies in regional governments' applications of the existing law. The panel's recommendations will be incorporated into a bill expected to be brought before the country's parliament [Cortes Generales website] in the first half of 2009. AP has more. AFP has additional coverage.
The loosening of abortion restrictions is one of the social policy changes that has been pushed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero [official profile, in Spanish], in addition to the successful legalization of same-sex marriage [JURIST report]. In March 2007, neighboring Portugal's National Assembly [official website, in Portuguese], passed a proposal to liberalize abortion legislation after a general referendum on abortion failed [JURIST reports] due to low turnout. That law took effect [JURIST report] in July 2007.