Catholic Church launches fierce anti-abortion campaign in Spain

Madrid, Spain - A debate was under way Tuesday in Spain over an anti-abortion campaign launched by the country's Catholic Church, which said the rights of plants and animals were protected better than those of unborn children. The Bishops' Conference on Monday announced a "massive mobilization" against a more liberal abortion law which is being prepared by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist government.

Posters showing a child and a lynx - an endangered species - were to be put up around the country. "And me? Protect my life!" the child says.

Spanish bishops are fiercely opposed to plans by the government to relax the 1985 abortion law, freeing women from having to justify their abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

More than 100,000 abortions are already performed annually in Spain, usually on grounds of danger to the mother's psychological health.

The church also opposes medical procedures such as the genetic selection of a child whose umbilical cord was used to cure his older brother of a severe form of anemia recently in Seville.

Relative peace had reigned for about a year between the government and the church, whose representatives earlier attended massive rallies against the legalization of homosexual marriage.

The campaign against abortion showed that the way of the church was "different from that of society," Health Minister Bernat Soria said.

Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida of the Catalan party CiU, however, defended the church's right to campaign in favour of its ideas.