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Spain high court asked to overturn new abortion law

Spain's conservative Popular Party (PP) [party website, in Spanish] on Tuesday asked the country's high court to declare the recently approved changes [JURIST report] to Spain's abortion [JURIST news archive] laws unconstitutional. Under the new law, abortions performed in the first 14 weeks of gestation are declared a right [CP report], and abortions are allowed until 22 weeks if the mother's life is in danger. The new law replaces the current law dating back to 1985, which allowed abortions only in the case of rape, up to 12 weeks, severe fetal malformation, up to 22 weeks, or if the woman's physical or mental health was in danger. The PP contends that the new law violates Article 15 of the Spanish Constitution [text, PDF] which states, "Everyone has the right to life and to physical and moral integrity, and under no circumstances may be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment." They argue that the fetus is entitled to the same rights as the mother, which includes the right to life and that right can only be taken away in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger. Pro-life activists have actively protested the new law and had previously encouraged [JURIST reports] the PP to make good on a promise to seek the bill's repeal. The new law is set to take effect on July 5.

The Spanish Senate [official website, in Spanish] gave final approval to the bill in February. Spain's lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies [official website, in Spanish], passed the bill in December after it received approval [JURIST reports] from the Council of State in September. The changes were proposed [JURIST report] last March by a panel of legal and medical experts led by Minister of Equality Bibiano Aido [official website, in Spanish], eliciting widespread protests [JURIST report] throughout Spain. The panel was formed [JURIST report] in September 2008 at the request of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero [official profile, in Spanish] as part of a series of social reforms that have included same-sex marriage [JURIST report] and streamlined divorce proceedings.

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