The Spanish Constitutional Court recognises the “woman's right to self-determination” regarding abortion. Evangelicals “regret and denounce the lack of protection of human life”.
The Spanish Constitutional Court recently approved by majority (7 to 4) the sentence that entirely rejects the appeal of unconstitutionality presented by the People's Party against the 2010 Organic Law on Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy, better known as the law on abortion terms.
This law from thirteen years ago allows free abortion within the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy. This system replaced the previous one, in which it was only allowed in cases of risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman, rape, or the likelihood of serious physical or psychological damage to the foetus.
The Court took this decision because of the “significant existential impact that pregnancy and childbirth have on a woman's body and mind".
The Federation of Evangelical Entities of Spain said the Constitutional Court “goes too far in recognising abortion as a right" (see more below).
The Court considers that the Constitution “recognises the pregnant woman the reasonable scope of self-determination required for the effectiveness of her fundamental right to physical and moral integrity, in connection with her right to dignity and the free development of her personality".
“The public authorities not only have the duty to respect and not to harm fundamental rights, but also the positive obligation to guarantee their effectiveness. The obligation of the Public Administrations to ensure the provision of voluntary termination of pregnancy derives from this positive duty to ensure the effectiveness of fundamental rights", the Constitutional Court says in its sentence.
Four magistrates voted against the sentence because it “seriously exceeds the scope and limits of the jurisdictional control that corresponds to the Court".
The magistrates who voted no say the sentence “recognises a new constitutional right, which it calls the woman's right to self-determination regarding the termination of pregnancy (...) and with that, the sentence places itself outside the margins of the control of constitutionality that corresponds to this Court, since recognising new fundamental rights is a power of the constituent power, not of the constituted powers".
The Federation of Evangelical Churches and Religious Entities of Spain, FEREDE, published a statement in which they regret and “denounce the lack of protection of the human life caused by the recognition of the so-called right of a woman to self-determination regarding the termination of pregnancy".
"We regret the recognition of abortion as a right, considering that it responds to an ideological approach that creates a non-existent fundamental right linked to the right to human dignity of women and their right to the free development of their personality, and their physical and moral integrity, leaving unprotected the first stage of the forming human life".
Protecting motherhood is necessary, but “the state also has a constitutional mandate to defend the life of the unborn and to establish a legal system for that end, since human life must be protected in all its stages and, most especially, in the most vulnerable and defenceless ones".
Abortion entails “serious personal and public, legal, ethical and moral conflicts, which cannot be denied by appealing only to the rights of the woman", FEREDE adds.
It also underlines that this sentence upholds issues about which they already expressed their concern and disagreement. For example, “the lack of protection of the right to conscientious objection, with the creation of a registry of conscientious objectors in which all health workers must register, in advance and in writing".
The evangelical entity stresses that the law “ignores the fact that there is not only maternity, but also paternity and co-responsibility" and regrets the “absence of measures that advance in the development of a true protection of maternity and the absence of measures that promote responsible sexuality".
The debate on abortion has been present in the evangelical sphere in recent decades. In Spain, during the recent Bioethics conference, evangelical professionals from the legal, scientific and health fields published a series of conclusions in which they expressed their shared vision of these issues.
In the chapter dedicated to human life issues, they say: “We believe in the identity, and therefore the unique and unrepeatable character, of each human life from the moment of conception until death".
“While we believe that the mother's right over her own body is completely legitimate, it should not prevail over the right to life of the unborn. We do consider the option of abortion to be ethical when it is necessary to save the life of the mother, as the lesser harm," states the document,
Furthermore, it recommends “to work for pro-life alternatives" such as adoption and "for counselling prior to the decision to abort; in order to ensure that whoever takes this decision, always tragic for any woman, has received advice and support in every possible way, with other alternatives, as is done in other European countries".
Read the conclusions of the 4th Bioethics Conference here (in Spanish).