Back From the Brink in Spain

Big news from Europe today: the ruling conservative People’s Party in Spain abruptly backed off efforts to implement a ban on abortions (with exceptions for rape, incest and the mother’s physical and mental health) it had campaigned on in 2011. Here’s a quick overview from The Guardian‘s Ashifa Kassam:

The Spanish government has abandoned its plans to tighten the country’s liberal abortion laws, ending months of speculation and prompting the resignation of the justice minister charged with enacting some of the toughest legislation on the issue in Europe.

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“As president of the government, I have taken the most sensible decision,” the country’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, told reporters at a conference in Madrid, saying that his government had failed to reach a consensus on the issue.

“We can’t have a law that will be changed when another government comes in.”

Huh. Sounds like an ever-ready excuse for junking any controversial proposal, doesn’t it?

But Rajoy was dealing with highly adverse polls (showing 70% to 80% opposition to the new law) and heavily attended protests rallies as well. And it was clear that although PP had campaigned on much stricter abortion laws, it won office in 2011 basically because of massive unhappiness with the Spanish Socialist government’s handling of austerity demands from the EU.

As a face-saving manuever, the PP will apparently now propose a parental consent requirement for abortions by minors. But it’s suffered a blow that Republicans in this country ought to ponder, tied as they are to a tougher version (with no mental health exceptions) of the law that backfired in Spain.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.