MADRID (AFP) — Spain's socialist government will introduce a less restrictive abortion law during the first half of 2009, Equality Minister Bibiano Aido said Thursday.
"It can't be that a woman who wants to terminate her pregnancy in Spain faces difficulties," she told a meeting of abortion experts.
The new law will offer great legal protection for women who wish to have an abortion and doctors who carry out the procedure, added Bibiano who gave no further details on the new law which could come into effect at the end of 2009 or the start of 2010.
Spain decriminalised abortion in 1985 but only for certain cases: up to 12 weeks of pregnancy after a rape; up to 22 weeks in the case of malformation of the foetus; and at any point if the pregnancy represents a threat to the physical or mental health of the woman.
The majority of abortions in Spain take place in private clinics and are justified on the grounds that the pregnancy posed a "psychological risk" for the health of the woman.
In July Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government, in power since 2004, announced that it would soon require that women who have abortions be automatically granted anonymity unless a court orders otherwise.
The move came after a recent investigation into alleged irregularities at a private abortion clinic led police to question women in their homes.
Zapatero's Socialist Party also announced that month that it would relax the country's abortion law.
The move is likely to anger the Roman Catholic Church which has already fiercely opposed other liberal social reforms introduced by Zapatero since he took office, such as fast-track divorce and gay marriage and adoption.
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