Vatican backs Spanish anti-abortion marchers

Barcelona, Spain - Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Spain yesterday to protest against proposed changes to the law that will allow abortion on demand up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy.

Nuns and priests marched alongside doctors, academics, politicians and Catholic activists under the slogan: “There is no right to kill, there is the right to life”. The protest was supported by the Vatican.

Other proposed reforms, expected to become law by the summer, will allow abortion up to 22 weeks if a doctor certifies that there is a serious threat to the health of the mother, or foetal malformation. Beyond 22 weeks, it would be permitted only if doctors detect foetal malformation that is life-threatening.

The law, at present, allows abortion up to 12 weeks only in cases of rape and 22 weeks in cases of foetal malformation. Terminations are allowed at any stage if doctors certify that the mental or physical health of the mother is threatened by allowing the pregnancy to go ahead.

The issue again puts the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis RodrÍguez Zapatero, on a collision course with the Roman Catholic Church after reforms such as the legalisation of gay marriage, faster divorce, making religious studies in school optional and allowing stem-cell research.