Spain's Constitutional Court rules in favour of 13-year-old abortion law

The Spanish flag is seen outside the Constitutional Court building in Madrid
The Spanish flag is seen outside the Constitutional Court building in Madrid, Spain, December 29, 2022. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura

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

The ruling comes after the court was revamped in December with the conservative faction losing clout, which led it to dismiss the appeal brought by the centre-right People's Party (PP) in 2010 against the law passed by the Socialist government that year.

"The Abortion Law is constitutional," Equality Minister Irene Montero said on Twitter, adding that "never again will 13 years go by in which a single women's right is questioned".

Women's rights have been prominent in the political debate in Spain for over a decade and remain controversial, as the country gears up for regional and national elections later this year.

Since the abortion law was passed, there was a failed attempt to restrict rights in 2014 by the conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Last year, the minority left-wing government reinforced abortion rights by eliminating parental consent for women aged 16-17 who wish to terminate their pregnancy, and made Spain the first country in Europe to offer state-funded paid leave for women who suffer from painful periods.

But far-right party Vox, the minority partner in the regional government of Castile and Leon, proposed that pregnant women who want to abort first listen to their foetus' heartbeats and be shown 4D ultrasounds.

The proposal caused a big turmoil, with the central government threatening to step in if the region restricted women's rights.

The regional PP leader said no abortion protocol would be changed and that they were only improving resources available to both healthcare professionals and women.

Women's rights are back under the international spotlight after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to terminate pregnancies in 2022.

Abortion was first decriminalised in Spain in 1985 in the cases of malformed foetuses, rape or potential mental or physical damage to the mother.

Reporting by Emma Pinedo; Editing by David Latona and Arun Koyyur

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