Spanish gov't to change abortion bill

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2009 9:53 AM

The Spanish government agreed to changes in its proposed abortion bill that will now require girls aged 16 and 17 to inform one of their parents if they seek to end their pregnancy, an opposition party said Thursday.

The clause in the proposed legislation that would allow teens to have an abortion without parental consent had caused much opposition among conservatives.

But despite the change the girls can still end their pregnancy without parents approval, said Carmen Monton, the spokeswoman on women issues for the governing Socialist Party.

"The important thing is that the consent comes from women, regardless of age," Monton told reporters. "The parents will be informed and there will be exceptions. I thinks it's a good agreement," she said.

The opposition Basque Nationalist Party, which announced the changes, said it would now vote in favor of the new abortion bill.

The new bill proposes unrestricted abortion up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy, as opposed to stricter limits currently in place.

The amendment says also that young women who could demonstrate that having to inform a parent _ or their legal guardian _ would cause serious problems for them can be exempted from this obligation.

According to the existing legislation, abortion was allowed in cases of rape or fetal malformation, or when doctors deemed that a pregnant woman's physical or mental health was in danger as a result of the pregnancy. Most of Spain's annual 100,000 abortions come under that clause.

Women who had abortions outside these legal limits could be prosecuted, though cases have been rare.

The new legislation is supported by several parties but the votes of the six Basque deputies would guarantee passage in parliament, which is expected to vote on it early next year.

The group posing fiercest opposition is the leading conservative Popular Party, which has 153 seats in the 350-seat lower house.

The Socialists said they are seeking as broad a consensus as possible on the legislation.