Spain government backs tougher abortion law

Pro-choice demonstration in Burgos, Spain. Photo: 20 December 2013 Pro-choice groups have vowed to stage a series of protests against the proposal

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The Spanish government has backed a proposal for a tougher abortion law.

The bill says early termination is no longer a right, and would only be allowed in cases of rape or when the mother's health is at risk.

The current law gives women the right to abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy, rising to 22 weeks in case of foetal deformities.

Pro-choice groups have pledged to stage protests against the change, which will be debated in parliament.

'Backstreet clinics'

Spain's centre-right government unveiled the proposal on Friday.

"We can't allow the life of the unborn baby to depend exclusively on the decision of the mother," Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon told reporters.

The move is almost certain to be passed into law because the governing Popular Party has a strong majority in Congress, the BBC's Guy Hedgecoe in Madrid reports.

Many supporters of the party are practising Catholics, and Spain's Catholic Church has frequently spoken out to call for a similar law, our correspondent adds.

But the opposition Socialist Party warned the measure would send women into dangerous backstreet clinics for abortions.

Pro-choice and feminist groups are now planning demonstrations over the coming months while the bill is being debated by lawmakers.

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