Abortion rights in Spain over the past decades

A procedure room is seen through the door at the private clinic Dator, which provides abortions, in Madrid
A procedure room is seen through the door at the private clinic Dator, which provides abortions, in Madrid, Spain, May 23, 2022. REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

MADRID, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday backed a 13-year-old law that allows women to abort on demand within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, as the divisive issue resurfaced following a regional far-right party's efforts to limit abortion access.

Here is a timeline of abortion rights in Spain over the past few decades:


Abortion is first decriminalised in the cases of malformed foetuses, rape, or potential mental or physical risks to the mother.


The Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero amends the law, allowing women to terminate unwanted pregnancies on demand within 14 weeks, or up to 22 weeks in cases of severe abnormalities, putting Spain in line with most of Western Europe.

The conservative People's Party (PP) challenges the law before the Constitutional Court.


The PP government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy comes to power with a large majority in parliament. The party's campaign promises include reforming the abortion law.


A new abortion law draft, even more restrictive than the one passed in 1985, is released.

The draft allows abortion only in the case of rape or if the pregnancy poses a serious physical or mental health risk to the mother. It eliminates the option of abortion on request in the case of malformation of the foetus.

The draft angers women's groups, leads to huge street protests and complaints from leading doctors.


PP scraps the reform as the subject stirs up great opposition even inside its own ranks. Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, the reform's architect, resigns.


In the end, PP only introduces minor changes to the law: That young women of 16 and 17 cannot terminate a pregnancy without their parents' consent.


The left-wing coalition government reinforces abortion rights by eliminating parental consent for women aged 16-17 who wish to terminate their pregnancy. The law is pending final approval in parliament.


The Constitutional Court upholds the 2010 law.

Reporting by Emma Pinedo; Editing by David Latona and Bernadette Baum

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