Spanish protest abortion reform20th October 2009
More than one million people protested against changes to abortion laws in Spain.
Though the government of Spain is socialist, the majority of the population is Catholic.
During the early hours of the evening, protesters began to take to the streets.
At the head of the parade, people carried a banner than read "Every Life Matters."
The law in question would allow a 16-year-old girl to undergo an abortion in the absence of any approval by their parents.
The diverse crowd then went to the Plaza de Independencia and held a rally there.
Benigno Blanco, the head of the Forum for the Family, said that the presence of each person in the demonstration was a commitment to the fight for life, and that the government should listen to its people.
While local authorities said that the number of people who attended the rally was 1.2 million, one of the organisers of the rally put the number several hundred thousand people higher.
The organisers said that 600 buses were used to bring people to the rally, and that the crowd included people from 42 Spanish anti-abortion organisations.
Jose Carlos Felicidad, 67, a retired naval technician, said the new law was barbaric.
Alberto, a 17-year-old student who came to Madrid for the rally by bus, said that the government took no notice of public opinion, and that its laws were against human life.
Equality Minister Bibiana Aido, who had a hand in drafting the reforms, said that no woman should be penalised for taking such a difficult decision as that of abortion.
The law would allow women over 16 to have abortions until the 14th week of their term, and would also extend that limit if the woman's health was in danger, if the foetus showed obvious deformities, or if the foetus had a serious medical condition.
One decade after Franco's dictatorship ended, in 1985, Spain made it legal for women to have abortions under certain circumstances.
Abortions were limited up to 12 weeks of pregnancy if the woman had been raped, and were allowed if the woman's life was in danger.
Currently, Spanish women are required to find private clinics where they can have abortions and to justify their pregnancy as a psychological risk.
The new legislation is based on other EU countries' laws.
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