As a consequence the main opposition party has called for a secret ballot when the bill comes to the Houses for approval; in other words, conservatives MP’s can vote according to their conscience without worrying about a party-discipline backlash.
The last time that this secret ballot measure was used was in the voting over Spain’s participation in the 2003 Iraq Invasion. At the time the PP Government enjoyed absolute majorities in both houses. Conservative MP’s had been voicing their unease and concern over the Aznar Foreign Policy that had aligned Spain with London and Washington.
The fact was that over 90% of the Spanish general public were against Spain’s participation, so logically, so were the majority of conservative voters.
When the voting came around, despite complete anonymity, however, every last one of the conservative MP’s obeyed the party’s instructions to vote in favour.
Bearing this in mind, it doesn’t give much hope that dissenting conservative MP’s will vote against their own party’s bill this time around, either.
So, what’s happening over abortions in Spain?
The hardcore, conservative element of the PP have pushed through their agenda, favouring the stance of the Spanish Catholic Church, or better said, the Council of Bishops, on the subject of abortion. It is to be remembered that the Partido Popular was formally called the Alianza Popular, because it was a coalition of all the different right-wing parties; from the moderates to the extreme right.
With international criticism of this proposed abortion bill, as well as total rejection from all opposition parties, the Government is calling for the “consensus of 1985.” The trouble is, there was no “consensus” in 1985, thanks to conservative frontal opposition to the socialist abortion law of that year.
Let me explain: under Franco abortion was totally illegal under any circumstances. When Democracy returned in 1978, one of the first things that the first socialist government did was to revoke the criminalization of abortion in 1983, approving a law that allowed women to abort in cases of rape, fetal malfunction and danger to the mother’s health.
The conservatives, unable to defeat the bill in Parliament took their objection to the Constitutional Court, arguing that the law violated the fundamental rights of the fetus. Finally, two years later, in 1985, the Constitutional Court basically rejected the conservative case and the socialist government was able bring the abortion law into effect.
Then in 2010, the socialist government passed the Organic Law 2/2010 (sexual and reproductive health and abortion). This law brought Spain into line with the World Health Organization (WHO), regulating the conditions of abortion, giving women a free and informed decision on the termination of a pregnancy in the first 14 weeks. The proposed bill revokes the 14-week ruling, putting us back to 1985 restrictions.
In conclusion, the idea now expressed by the PP is a complete and utter fallacy as there was no consensus in 1985. In fact, today’s conservative PM, Mariano Rajoy, as a young MP in 1985, was ardently against abortion under any circumstances.