Spain's upper house of parliament on Wednesday passed legislation easing access to abortion, finally approving a law fiercely opposed by the Roman Catholic Church and the conservative opposition.
The Senate approved the law tabled by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government with 132 votes in favour, 126 against and one abstention. It will now come into force within four month.
AdvertisementIn December Spain's lower house of parliament approved the bill which would allow abortion on demand up to the 14th week of pregnancy and up to 22 weeks if there is a risk to the mother's health or if the foetus has serious problems, in line with most of the country's European Union partners.
The existing law introduced in 1985, a decade after the death of right-wing dictator Francisco Franco, only allows abortion in cases of rape, foetal malformation and when a pregnant woman's mental or physical health is deemed to be at risk if the pregnancy goes to term.
The most controversial part of the initial draft law allowed girls as young as 16 to terminate pregnancies without their parents' knowledge.
But it was watered down and under the amended text approved on Wednesday minors aged 16 or 17 will have to inform their families of a decision to abort, except if they face "a clear risk of family violence, threats, pressure or mistreatment."
Last year around 115,000 abortions were carried out in Spain, the great majority on the grounds that the woman's mental health was at risk, according to the health ministry.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Madrid in October to condemn the government's liberalisation of the abortion laws in the overwhelmingly Catholic country.
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