MADRID (AP) — The Spanish government has scrapped plans to restrict the availability of abortion because there was no consensus for change, the prime minister said Tuesday.
The government had promised to restrict abortion to only cases of rape or serious health risks but the proposal triggered widespread denunciation, with critics saying it would put Spain back 40 years in terms of women's rights.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his government had battled to get wide agreement on the changes but failed. He said abortion was an issue that "affected the profound and personal convictions of all citizens" and needed to be taken seriously.
"We can't have a law that will be changed when another government comes in," said Rajoy.
He said the government would seek instead to change the law — which allows abortion without restrictions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy — so that 16- and 17-year-olds will once again have to obtain their parents' permission.
Rajoy's Popular Party, which has long sided with the Roman Catholic Church on moral and social issues, had made the change one of its main promises in the 2011 vote that brought it to power. Local media said the government was ditching the plan because of fears of a voter backlash in municipal and general elections next year.
On Sunday, several thousand people held an anti-abortion protest in Madrid, with some warning they would withdraw their vote from the Popular Party if the government backtracked on the abortion restrictions.