The Spanish government, in a landmark ruling, will soon require that women who have abortions be automatically granted anonymity. The name will be disclosed only when there is a court order to that effect, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega said Friday.
"This is an initiative that has been demanded by women for a long time," she told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting where the step was approved.
Information about a woman who undergoes an abortion will be linked to a confidential number instead of to her name, which could only be revealed under a court order, the government said in a statement.
The move comes after a recent investigation into alleged irregularities at a private abortion clinic led police to question women in their homes.
Earlier this month Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero's ruling Socialist Party agreed at its annual congress to relax the predominantly Roman Catholic county's law on abortion.
De la Vega said at the time that the party wants to draw on the "most innovative European laws governing circumstances and time limits."
Spain decriminalized abortion in 1985 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 fetus; and at any point if the pregnancy represents a threat to the physical or mental health of the woman.
The majority of abortions in Spain take place in private clinics and are justified on the grounds that the pregnancy posed a "psychological risk" for the health of the woman.