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Spain's PP Tweaks Abortion Reform

Source: El Pais - Sat 11th Apr 2015
Spain's PP Tweaks Abortion Reform

Abortion reform continues to bring headaches to Spain's ruling Partido Popular (PP), which made it one of its chief priorities when it won general elections in November 2011.

After backpedaling on initial plans to eliminate abortion on demand and take Spain back to a case-based system – a project that ran into a wall of rejection even within the conservative party's own ranks, and triggered the resignation of the justice minister – the government is now tweaking the text again, under pressure from half a dozen party hardliners.

Several PP deputies and senators have been threatening to break with party discipline and vote against the new, more minor changes when they come up for first approval in Congress next Tuesday.

As a result, party leaders now say they will eliminate two passages of the draft law that describe abortion as a woman's right. This is the way pregnancy terminations are defined in current legislation, which was passed in 2011 under the previous Socialist administration to bring Spain in line with other European countries that allow abortion on demand in the first trimester.

Health Minister Alfonso Alonso has been trying for weeks to convince these rebel members to toe the line, but to no effect. PP leaders have also warned them that a conscience vote will not be granted, and that they face fines if they vote against the bill.

"This law is making PP deputies and senators very uncomfortable," said Ángel Pintado, a PP senator who has rejected the legal reform.

No other political group in Congress is expected to support the PP's abortion reform.

On September 23, 2014, following months of public controversy over the issue, PM Mariano Rajoy announced that he was shelving abortion reform, at least in its initial form.

Only 4 hours later, Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón called a press conference to announce that he was resigning from politics after a 30-year career.

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* Andalusia and Catalonia join opposition against abortion reform