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Spain cabinet approves draft bill expanding abortion rights

[JURIST] Spain's Cabinet [official website, in Spanish] approved a draft bill [press release, in Spanish] Thursday that would liberalize Spanish abortion law. The new bill, which must now be approved by Parliament, would give women the right to an abortion any time during the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy. During the next eight weeks an abortion would be allowed only if two doctors determined that there is a serious risk [El Pais report, in Spanish] to the woman's health or a serious risk of fetal malformation. After 22 weeks an abortion would be allowed only if a panel of doctors agree that the fetus faces severe health hazards. Parts of the new bill mirror the March proposals [JURIST report] of a panel of legal and medical experts. Under current Spanish law, abortions are illegal except in cases of rape, fetal malformation, or danger to the mother's health. Spain's bill comes one day after Germany's parliament approved a bill [JURIST report] heightening requirements for late-term abortions.

The panel's proposals sparked protests [JURIST report] in Madrid in March. 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 [party 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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