Spain's prime minister defended Tuesday one of the most controversial parts of his proposed abortion law reform which would allow 16-year-olds to terminate their pregnancies without parental consent.
"Let's take into account what the experts say, the experience of other European countries and let's have confidence in our youth, in our women," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said when asked about the measure.
"Let's not deny them the right to freely decide, let's not intervene in the free and private decision of a woman, who is the one who has to take on the responsibility of a pregnancy during her entire life," he added.
The Socialist premier was speaking at a joint news conference with the visiting president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez.
Under a proposed sweeping reform unveiled last week, abortions would be allowed for women of 16 years and over 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 is deformed.
Women can also undergo the procedure after 22 weeks if the foetus has a serious or incurable illness.
The bill aims to reform a 1985 abortion law, which decriminalised abortion but only for certain cases: up to 12 weeks of pregnancy after a rape; up to 22 weeks in the case of malformation of the foetus; and at any point if the pregnancy represented a threat to the physical or mental health of the mother.
But the Catholic Church, which has previously clashed with the government over the legalisation of gay marriage and a fast-track divorce law, and the conservative opposition Popular Party have both condemned the measure.
The bill still must be examined by the judiciary and be passed by parliament where the Socialists lack a majority.