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Spain abortion law proposed changes cause widespread protests

[JURIST] Thousands protested the proposed liberalization of Spain's abortion laws in Madrid on Sunday. The changes, proposed earlier this month [JURIST report], include allowing abortions up to week 14 of pregnancy for any reason and lowering the age required for an abortion from 18 to 16. These reforms are in sharp contrast with the current law, established in 1985, which allows women over the age of 18 the right to abort only up to 12 weeks in cases of rape, up to 22 weeks in cases of fetal malformation, and at any stage where there are serious health risks to the mother. In protests organized by pro-life groups Derecho a Vivir, Hazte Oir, Medicos por la Vida and Provida Madrid [advocacy websites, in Spanish], demonstrators chanted "no right to kill, right to life" and urged the government not to adopt the proposed changes [AFP report]. Similar demonstrations [El Pais report, in Spanish] took place in cities throughout Spain on Sunday.

The panel tasked with investigating changes to Spanish abortion law was formed in September [JURIST report] at the request of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as part of a series of social reforms including the legalization of same-sex marriage [JURIST report] and streamlined divorce proceedings. Since the committee was formed, the conservative Popular Party [official website, in Spanish] 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, in Spanish], which guarantees the right to life.

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