By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

MADRID, June 19, 2009 ( – The Spanish Episcopal Conference has issued a thundering denunciation of a new proposed law that would remove all criminal penalties for abortions during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and allow minors as young as 16 years old obtain abortions without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

In what the Associate Press called “an extraordinary gesture, given that the law hasn’t even arrived at the Parliament,” the bishops write that “in accordance with the doctrine of the Church, no Catholic consistent with his faith will be able to approve of it nor give it his vote.”

Moreover, the bishops assert that such laws undermine the very legitimacy of the government itself.

“The government that awards the description of a ‘right’ to something that, in reality, is an attack against the fundamental right to life, perverts the fundamental order of rationality that is the basis for its legitimacy,” the bishops write. “The care of the fundamental good of human life and the right to life form an essential part of the obligations of [government] authority.”

Quoting the text of the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council, the bishops call abortion an “abominable crime” and “an intrinsically evil act that very seriously violates the dignity of an innocent human being, taking his life.”

They go on to observe that “the inclusion of abortion among the means that are supposedly necessary to care for the health is in and of itself a serious falsehood. The actions of medicine are directed to preventing illness or curing it.   But a pregnancy will never be an illness in itself, although it can be accompanied by health complications, be unexpected, or even be the result of a rape. For that reason, to carry out an abortion is never to cure, it is always to kill.”

They also accuse the socialists who are promoting the bill of hypocrisy, noting that the requirements for carrying out an abortion without criminal penalty become ever more restrictive as the gestation of the fetus continues.

By what logic are people prevented from carrying out abortions “in the moment or birth or one minute after?” the bishops ask. “One looks in vain for a response to these questions, all of them of great moral significance.”

The ruling Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE) proposed the legislation last year following revelations broadcast on national television that abortion clinics were justifying the deadly procedure by faking diagnosis of ‘psychological danger’ to the mother, on fetuses up to the  second and even third trimesters. 

The dead bodies were being ground up in industrial strength food processors normally used in restaurants, and flushed into the public sewer system. Several clinic workers were arrested, including Spain’s “Abortion Mogul” Carlos Morin.

Under current Spanish law, those who carry out abortions are exempt from criminal penalties only under certain conditions, including rape, fetal deformity, and danger to the physical or psychological health of the mother.

While more conservative politicians called for the law to be effectively enforced, the PSOE reacted to the scandal by proposing the elimination of all criminal penalties for abortion during the first fourteen months of pregnancy, while maintaining existing restrictions on later term abortions. Their proposed legislation would also lower the age of consent to 16 years of age.

However, the proposed legislation, and particularly the age of consent change, has proven unpopular with the voting public, which has indicated strong opposition in two different surveys. Conservative politicians in the opposition Popular Party exploited the discontent over the new law in the recent European Parliament elections, in which the PP notably garnered more votes than the PSOE.

Related Links:

Declaration on the “Abortion Law” Bill: Attacking the Life of the Unborn is Converted into a “Right” – Permanent Commission of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (in Spanish)

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