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Spain Council of State approves proposed abortion reforms

[JURIST] The Spanish Council of State [official website, in Spanish] unanimously approved on Thursday the proposed law [text, DOC in Spanish; summary, in Spanish] to reform the existing framework [text, in Spanish] that governs abortion in Spain, finding that proposed reforms constitutional. The proposed law would allow women to seek abortions voluntarily until the fourteenth week, and until the twenty-second week if there is risk to the mother's health or severe fetal malformation. The bill would allow women 16 years and older to elect to have an abortion. The Council of State, the highest advisory organ in the executive branch, approved [El Pais report, in Spanish] the project in its entirety making only the recommendation that women ages 16-17 should have to notify their parents about the procedure unless they have compelling reasons not to. The Council's approval is the final consultation in the executive branch before the bill, called the Law on Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy and Sexual and Reproductive Health, undergoes a final review by the Council of Ministers [official website, in Spanish]. The proposal will then be submitted to the legislative branch, the General Courts [official website, in Spanish], which will have final say over the terms of the law. Current Spanish abortion law dates from 1985, after the end of the Franco regime. It stipulates that abortions may be permitted only in cases of pregnancy from rape, severe fetal malformation, or if the pregnancy would imperil the mother's physical or mental health within the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy.

The changes were proposed [JURIST report] in March by a panel of legal and medical experts led by the Minister of Equality Bibiano Aido [official website, in Spanish], eliciting widespread protests [JURIST report] throughout Spain. The panel was formed [JURIST report] last September at the request of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero [official profile, in Spanish] as part of a series of social reforms including same-sex marriage [JURIST report] and streamlined divorce proceedings. 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. Spanish abortion laws [BBC backgrounder] are among the most restrictive in European nations.

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