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Hundreds protest Spain abortion law changes in run-up to implementation

Hundreds of Spaniards gathered outside Spain's Constitutional Court [official website] in Madrid Saturday to protest recently approved changes [JURIST report] to the country's abortion [JURIST news archive] laws. Demonstrators representing roughly 60 anti-abortion organizations [AFP report], including Right to Live (DV) [advocacy website], assembled to challenge what they describe [press release, in Spanish] as "the most radical abortion law in Europe," which will allow abortions up to 14 weeks in most cases and until 22 weeks if the mother's life is in jeopardy. The new law, set to take effect July 5, 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 protest follows similar demonstrations in March and last October [JURIST reports].

Last month, Spain's conservative Popular Party (PP) [official website, in Spanish] asked the country's high court [JURIST report] to declare the new law unconstitutional, arguing that it violates Article 15 of the Spanish Constitution [text, PDF]. 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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