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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 19 April, 2014

Irish pro-choice activists to protest against Spanish abortion plans

Spain’s government is currently planning to restrict access to abortion services.

A protester shows body paint reading
A protester shows body paint reading "Judges and priests away from my body" during a protest against abortion law reform in Madrid, Spain in 2012.
Image: Andres Kudacki/AP/Press Association Images

A NUMBER OF Irish pro-choice activists will gather outside the Spanish Embassy in Dublin this afternoon to protest against Spain’s plans to change its abortion laws.

Since 2010, any woman can decide to have an abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy in Spain.

However, the proposals would roll back those changes.

The Spanish government has published draft legislation which would limit access to terminations for pregnant women. The new rules would only permit abortions in cases of rape or when the mother’s health is at serious risk. Terminations would not be allowed in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

“Should the legislation be passed, Spain would then hold one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in Europe, only marginally more progressive than the Irish system,” said Abortion Rights Campaign spokesperson Gráinne Griffin.

“This proposed change will force people to travel abroad for abortion, as every year thousands currently do in Ireland,” she continued.

“We do not believe that people in Spain should be forced to live like we do in Ireland.”

The group is organising the picket of the embassy between 2pm and 3pm this afternoon to coincide with protests by pro-choice and feminist organisations across Spain.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of people have turned out to demonstrations against the government’s plans. Rulers have suggested that they will modify the draft law following the protests.

Last weekend, topless women threw underwear at the archbishop of Madrid as he arrived at a church. They hurled the red-stained knickers at the cardinal, as they believe he is one of the forces behind Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s reforms.

ARC says the “struggle for access to reproductive health rights and bodily integrity is an international one” and has called on Irish people to demonstrate in a show of solidarity and support for Spanish women.

It has also written an open letter which claims that “legislative restrictions on abortion will never lower the abortion rate”.

“We do not believe that  people with unwanted pregnancies in any country should be sent abroad to have terminations alone and in secret. We believe that nobody should go back to living in a society like ours.

“It is clear that in Spain, as in Ireland, access to abortion needs to be removed from the sphere of politics and provided for as a basic reproductive health right.”

The ruling party in Spain, the Popular Party, has been divided over the issue and calls for a free vote when the bill comes to parliament have been made.

Read: US abortion rate at lowest since 1973

More: Vatican says it will protect children – but criticises UN for ‘interfering’

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