Spain's government withdrew a bill that would have imposed some of Europe's strictest curbs on abortion, bowing to popular sentiment and dissent within the ruling conservative Popular Party. The decision Tuesday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on one of the most divisive social issues in this largely Roman Catholic country prompted sharp protests from some of his party's core supporters. His justice minister, the bill's chief advocate, resigned.
A political party with close ties to religious conservatives wins a national election thanks to unhappiness with the ruling center-left party's economic and financial performance. Challenged to redeem its platform promising a major reversal of landmark laws making abortion generally legal, the conservative party promulgates a law banning the procedure, with exceptions for rape, incest, and threats to the physical and mental health of the mother. Protests appear and spread as women object to the turning back of the clock. Public opinion surveys show 70 to 80 percent opposition to the new law. And finally, the conservative party's prime minister relents, puts off implementation of the abortion ban on grounds that it would be reversed at the next change of party control, and instead proposes a face-saving measure providing for parental approval of abortions by minors. Anti-choicers and religious officials are very, very displeased and the governing party could be heading toward disarray.