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Tens of thousands gather in Madrid to protest abortion law

© AFP (archive photo)

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-01

Tens of thousands of pro-choice supporters gathered on the streets of Spain’s capital Madrid on Saturday to voice their opposition to the government’s plans to restrict access to abortion.

The rally was organised Saturday by dozens of women's groups and organisations that fight for reproductive rights.

Protesters carried banners saying "Allow mothers to decide," and "Mothers and fathers in freedom."

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government announced on December 20 that it would roll back a 2010 law that allows women to opt freely for abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The new law, which has yet to pass parliament where the ruling People's Party enjoys an absolute majority, would grant women the right to access an abortion only in cases of rape or a threat to the physical or psychological health of the mother.

Rajoy's government has repeatedly postponed the abortion reform, reportedly because of internal dissent, after promising in its 2011 election campaign to tighten the rules.

The delay has drawn cries of impatience from Spain's powerful Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.

Last April, the head of Spain's Catholic Church, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, said the 2010 law had "led to a rise in the number of abortions to terrifying levels".

The national health ministry said about 118,000 abortions were carried out in Spain in 2011, up from 113,000 the previous year.

Campaigners dispute the effect of the legal changes on abortion numbers.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

Date created : 2014-02-01

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