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Unmasking the PP's abortion lies

Por: | 08 de marzo de 2012

Anti-abortion protest in Seville.

Let's just recap for a second, please, brand-new Mr Justice Minister. The right to have an abortion is "pressuring" Spanish women who get pregnant into getting rid of their baby, and your proposed reform will strengthen the "right to maternity." It is, one has to admit, a novel argument.

Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón has never been afraid to buck political tends. As the Popular Party mayor of Madrid he merrily married gay couples even as his party was disputing the constitutionality of the same-sex-union law that allowed for such events. Now he is attempting, to use his own word, to draft more "progressive" abortion legislation than the one Zapatero's Socialist government had passed, which did away with the need for pretexts (including the mother's mental health, which was the loophole whereby almost all terminations were justified whether the left or right was in power) and gives pregnant women free choice up to the 14th week. The minister has tried to be original. He seems to have calculated that the rights of the unborn child do not weigh more heavily in the mind of most people than those of women, so let's argue that criminalizing abortion gives women greater rights.

Gallardón cites a "systemic gender violence" forcing people to abort, adding: “No woman should be forced to renounce motherhood because of family, work or social conflict.” I couldn't agree more with that last comment, but how will restricting the right to abortion help that? It is as if Gallardón is preparing to install Scandinavian-style maternity leave and free crèches in every workplace in Spain. But he can't: first because he is minister for justice; and second because his master Rajoy has made it pretty plain that there is no money in the kitty for anyone to be airing the possibility of expansive new social welfare programs. No. It is either a disingenuous or entirely foolish rhetorical gambit to suggest that one right (that of abortion) is impinging on another (maternity). It is like arguing that the right to remain silent is an attack on freedom of expression.

But even accepting the argument that the availability of abortion is somehow feeding into societal pressure on women not to go ahead with births, again the new law comes out unscathed. The number of abortions did not rise after the Socialists' reform. The only important changes have been that fewer late terminations have taken place due to the removal of the mother's-health loophole (now there has to be a serious physical reason to abort beyond the 14th week), and that public health authorities were obliged to face their responsibilities in this area, economic excuses notwithstanding.

Gallardón may be trying to create a central ground between Spain's devout anti-abortionists and more moderate conservatives who are as concerned with women's place in society as with Catholic morality. But this choice between abortion on demand and women balancing work and motherhood simply does not exist.

The Catholics who demonstrated against Zapatero's law showed their strength, but put the Popular Party under pressure to act once back in power. Rajoy has expressed his preference for the old law (the old lie), under which abortion was illegal but any middle-class girl could short-circuit an inconvenient pregnancy. Isn't it time for the right to espouse a more honest anti-abortion policy? At least when making a defense of the fetus against women's freedom to choose, you can sincerely argue that one right has to come before the other.


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Old lie? Abortion was not illegal in Spain. "Any middle-class girl" and any woman "could short-circuit (what a metaphor!) an inconvenient pregnancy".

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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