Spanish church threatens to excommunicate abortion supporters

Madrid, Spain - Spain's Catholic Church has stepped up its campaign against the government's plans to liberalize the country's abortion law, press reports said Thursday. Bishops' Conference spokesman Juan Antonio Martinez Camino described abortion as a "mortal sin" and as a "heresy," saying Catholics who contributed to abortions could not take communion and would be automatically excommunicated.

Under a draft law, currently before parliament, abortions carried out before the end of the 14th week of pregnancy would be available upon request, without having to justify them.

Currently, more than 100,000 abortions are performed annually in Spain, usually on grounds of damage to the mother's psychological health.

The new law would also allow girls as young as 16 to have terminations without their parents' knowledge.

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against abortion in October, in a rally backed by the Catholic Church.

Martinez Camino's comments were criticized by politicians from several parties.

Socialist Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez said the spokesman did not represent all Catholics, while Catalan regionalist representative Pere Macias said Martinez Camino's comments made it look like the Inquisition had come back to Spain.