Hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates filled the streets and plazas of cities throughout Spain on March 29 in protest against legislation proposed by the Spanish Socialist government to liberalize the country’s abortion laws.
The country-wide demonstrations were organized by Spain’s pro-life associations Derecho a Vivir (Right to Life), Hazte Oír (Make Yourself Heard), Doctors for Life, and ProLife Madrid.
The organizers estimated that 500,000 people took part in rallies in more than 80 cities across Spain, with AFP reporting an estimated 100,000 in Madrid alone.
The protestors called on Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to withdraw the legislation and warned that this was just the start of planned pro-life demonstrations. The Madrid march went under the slogan, "There is no right to kill, there is the right to live."
Spain’s current law allows abortion up to 12 weeks in cases of rape and 22 weeks in cases of fetal malformation. The proposed law would allow abortion on demand up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy, and up to 22 weeks if a doctor certified a serious threat to the health of the mother or fetal malformation, and would also allow girls from the age of 16 the right to have an abortion without their parents’ consent.
Right to Life spokeswoman Dr. Gador Joya told the crowd in front of Madrid’s Equality Ministry, "The government wants to approve a free abortion law that leaves the unborn completely unprotected."
The proposed law "will only lead to more deaths and more suffering by thousands of women," she said. "We demand that our laws protect the right to live and to be a mother."
Vicente Martínez Pujalte of the conservative opposition Popular Party of Spain said that though he was present at the rally unofficially, party leader Rajoy had "approved of the protest" and noted that, "The government’s program threatens life and of course is not the best possible direction to take."
The leader of Hazte Oír (Make Yourself Heard), Ignacio Arsuaga said, "This is only the beginning," and proclaimed that a movement of over 100 professional and student groups is demanding "a true plan of support for pregnant women so that they can give birth to their children and as a last resort, if necessary, give them up for adoption."
Arsuaga also referred to the Madrid Declaration on Abortion, a manifesto which was read at the Madrid rally. The Manifesto, signed by over 300 experts from the medical science field in Spain, including researchers, professors, journalists, professionals, and specialists in humanities and social sciences, defends the "absolute value of the right to life by taking sides against the initiative promoted by the Zapatero’s Government of changing the juridical status of abortion with the aim of introducing abortion without restrictions in Spain."
The signatories defend the right to life that begins at conception, and in particular state clearly that "neither the embryo nor the foetus are parts of an organ of the mother." They also state that "an abortion is a simple and cruel act of terminating a human life," that women should be made aware of the psychological damages of post-abortion syndrome and that "the zygote is the initial corporeal reality of the human being."
The Manifesto argues that the proposed legislation to give a 16 year old girl the "autonomous right" to have an abortion "is a form of violence against women," and shows "a complete lack of responsibility."