Catholic Spain Allows Abortion Without Conditions

Steven Mosher
written by Carlos Beltramo
February 13, 2023
Reproduced with Permission
Population Research Institute

Spain's cultural slide down the slippery slope from a faithful Catholic country to a secular, even widely degenerate, society continues.

Last week the Spanish Constitutional Court (Spain's supreme court) rejected a constitutional challenge to the country's radical abortion law adopted in 2010.

Abortion was illegal in Spain up until 1985, when a law was adopted permitting abortion only in the case of rape, physical defects of the unborn child, or risk to the mother's health, specifically including risk to her mental health.

But the Socialists were not satisfied. In 2010, a new law pushed by Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was adopted. Still in force today, the law allows abortion on demand until the 14th week of gestation, while permitting abortion until birth under the same terms as the 1985 law.

The 2010 legislation even added a provision that allows minor girls as young as sixteen to have an abortion without parental knowledge or consent. In Spain, one becomes a legal adult at 18.

As soon as this law was adopted, Spain's conservative Partido Popular ("Popular Party") filed a constitutional challenge. The case quickly reached the Constitutional Court, but the Court declined to rule, surprising many, since the majority of its members were thought to be conservative.

While this challenge was still pending before the Court, the Socialists managed to pack it. Last year Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, leader of Spain's Socialist Workers' Party, was able to place four leftist judges on the Court. This new "progressive" seven-to-four majority not only rejected Partido Popular's challenge to the 2010 law, but changed the law to make abortions even easier to obtain.

This radical decision did not occur in a vacuum. Even though the Communists lost the Spanish Civil War in 1939, they did not lose their resolve - or their supporters. After the death of Francisco Franco in November 1975, they renewed their culture war on Faith and Family.

Our PRI colleague Christopher Manion, who lived in Spain at the time, remembers the turmoil that followed the new "democratic" government's assumption of power in the summer of 1976.

"In those days, popular magazines were displayed on racks and counters outside stores on the sidewalk," Manion says. "Imagine the shock of parents and families when the country's largest-circulation magazine featured a picture of their most beloved child actress on its cover: "Marisol, Desnuda" - "Marisol, Naked" - on every street corner, not to mention across the street from every Catholic church in the country."

This demeaning sexual objectification of Spain's version of Judy Garland opened the door to the pornification of the men in what had once been a faithful Catholic country. Suddenly pornography was everywhere. Within a generation, Spain's culture had caught up with the sexual revolution so quickly that it passed the rest of us by.

The Spanish Left immediately began to wage war against the family. By 1985, the promotion of liberal sex education had begun, followed by demands for access to abortion.

Spain's conservative governments during those years never championed the pro-life agenda, abandoning the field to Socialist governments who put a bull's eye on the Culture of Life.

The result? Today Spain suffers a debilitating demographic winter that threatens the literal depopulation of large portions of the country. The Socialists have no interest in reversing this trend by encouraging marriage and strong families with lots of children, instead continuing to promote a culture of death: "abortion rights," contraception, and a "woman's right to choose."

Pro-lifers continue to fight back, but opposing the anti-family Left has not been easy. Just last month, thanks to pressure from the conservative VOX party, the regional government of Castilla y Leon attempted to mandate that women seeking an abortion first hear the baby's heartbeat.

The National Socialist Government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez immediately came down hard on Castilla y Leon's Regional Government, even threatening to seize control of the entire region if they went ahead with the law.

The Socialists parroted the argument popularized by the United Nations: asking women to listen to their unborn child's heartbeat violated the "human rights of women," namely, the right to have an abortion without any impediment.

Like America's Democrats, Spain's socialists not only want to force public-sector doctors to perform abortions, they insist on removing any protections for the unborn child.

Given the radical positions of the Socialists, pro-lifers are optimistic that the Partido Popular will win the national elections this year. But they might have a problem in with the party's likely presidential candidate, Alberto Nunez Feijoo. When Feijoo learned that his party had lost the lawsuit in the Constitutional Court, he caved, stating that he and his party now agree with the Court's interpretation of the 2010 abortion law.

The pro-life movement's prospects in this fall's elections are not promising, even if the Popular Party wins. The only hope is that the VOX party might be able to move the party in a pro-life direction, but this will only happen if the Popular Party needs its votes to install Feijoo as president.

Pro-lifers have a steep mountain to climb in Spain. The constitutional court's decision has confirmed many Spaniards in the view that abortion is indeed a woman's "right."

Nonetheless, the pro-life movement in Spain remains a force, and PRI's European office is resolved to lead the way. We will redouble our efforts to return the hearts of Spaniards to their Faith, their families, and their children.

We are inspired by the words of Juan Jose Omella y Omella, President of the Spanish Conference of Catholic Bishops: Spaniards must return to "caring for the life of the human being in its weakest, most helpless moments."

That "return" requires the recollection of the glorious history of Catholic Spain, a memory that fades further into the past with each passing year.