Pro-Life Parties in Spain?
On July 23, there will be general elections in Spain. Everything seems to indicate that the right-wing parties will govern again following the social-communist government of Pedro Sánchez. This article will first explore how the political landscape has evolved in defense of life since the 2010 abortion law. It will conclude by noting the measures proposed for the protection of life (that is, regarding abortion and euthanasia) by the two political parties who claim to defend life: Partido Popular and Vox.
Summary of the anti-life laws passed in Spain
In 2010, during the tenure of the Left Party led by José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a law was introduced that expanded the scope of the right to abortion in Spain. Previously, abortion was only allowed in three specific cases: rape, risk to the physical or mental health of the mother, and fetal malformation. However, with the new law, abortion was permitted for any reason up to 14 weeks of gestation, and up to 22 weeks in the case of fetal disability. Subsequently, the Partido Popular filed a challenge before the Spanish Constitutional Court, who responded thirteen years later by ruling that the law was constitutional.
In 2014, during the government of the Partido Popular, a right-leaning political party, they had pledged to repeal the abortion law enacted during Zapatero’s government if they came to power. Despite obtaining an absolute majority, they did not fulfill this promise. The only modification made to the previous law was the inclusion of a requirement that parental consent be necessary for minors under 18 to access abortion.
During the most recent government led by Pedro Sánchez, characterized by a social-communist coalition, new laws opposed to the right to life were approved. First, the government enacted a new euthanasia law. Then it revoked the requirement for girls under 18 to obtain parental consent before having an abortion. Finally, they amended the Penal Code so that those who “in order to obstruct the exercise of the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy, harass a woman by means of annoying, offensive, intimidating or coercive acts that undermine her freedom, shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to one year or community service of thirty-one to eighty days.” So far there have already been fines of up to 1,200 euros for praying the holy rosary in front of abortion clinics.
Recently, in the autonomous community of Castilla y León, where the government was formed by the Partido Popular and Vox, a pro-life measure proposed by Vox was introduced. This measure involved offering women the option to listen to fetal heartbeats and see a 4D ultrasound before proceeding with an abortion. This proposal sparked significant controversy, and the Partido Popular ultimately withdrew the proposal, seemingly without implementing it. However, Vox claims that the measure was implemented and that women in Castilla y León have the option to listen to fetal heartbeats and see 4D ultrasounds.
In recent months, there has been controversy surrounding the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the 2010 abortion law, which came thirteen years after its enactment. The Court not only declared the law was constitutional but also, exceeding its jurisdiction, declared abortion to be a right. Additionally, the President of the Partido Popular expressed agreement with the 2010 law and satisfaction with the decision of the Constitutional Court. These statements were heavily criticized by Vox.
Measures proposed by Partido Popular
The Partido Popular has included certain measures aimed at the defense of life in its electoral program. Although the program contains a total of 365 points, only three are specifically dedicated to this issue. In relation to abortion, the program proposes modifying the legislation to mandate that girls under the age of eighteen cannot have an abortion without the consent of their parents. Furthermore, in both abortion and euthanasia, the program seeks to protect the right to conscientious objection of healthcare professionals.
Regarding the euthanasia law, the Partido Popular proposes improving palliative care legislation and reviewing the euthanasia law, “taking into consideration the opinion of the Bioethics Committee.” This quotation alludes to previous criticism of the Socialist Government, which did not consider the report published by the Bioethics Committee when drafting the euthanasia law. The Committee was created with the purpose of “issuing reports, proposals, and recommendations to the public authorities at the state and regional level on matters with relevant bioethical implications.” In the case of the euthanasia law, the Committee’s report expressed opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide. However, the socialist government ignored their report and subsequently replaced the committee members who had voted in favor of it. The new members appointed by the socialist party will be the ones advising the Partido Popular. Therefore, if the decision to revoke the euthanasia law is subject to the opinion of the Bioethics Committee, it is likely that the law will remain in force.
Measures proposed by Vox
Vox presents itself as the party that most strongly defends the right to life. If the right-wing coalition achieves a majority, there is a possibility that Vox will participate in the government. The key question lies in whether Vox will demand pro-life measures during the negotiations to form a government. The following are the main pro-life measures found in Vox’s electoral program.
Vox has promised to defend the right to life from conception to natural death and put an end to the culture of death. To achieve this, it aims to repeal the euthanasia law and the law on free abortion. It has promised to eliminate the “false right to abortion” and defend the right of every pregnant woman to access a permanent information protocol. The protocol will include the possibility of listening to the fetal heartbeat and performing a 4D ultrasound. Furthermore, Vox has promised to: (1) ensure the information, support, and necessary alternatives for all mothers with problematic pregnancies; (2) repeal the law prohibiting people supporting women who are going to have an abortion from standing in front of abortion clinics and promoting life; (3) guarantee the exercise of conscientious objection rights for healthcare professionals and administrative staff; and (4) repeal the euthanasia law and pass a palliative care law that ensures the care of people in critical and terminal stages of life.
The ECLJ interviewed Vox MEP Margarita de la Pisa to get a better understanding of how Vox approaches the task of defending life. During the interview, Margarita emphasized that defending life is a priority for Vox and that they will fight for it in all the institutions they are part of. At the European level, Vox gave a voice to defense of the unborn in the European Parliament, which they consider to be a significant step towards normalizing this cause in Europe.
The deputy expressed concern that there is an intention to deceive women and hide the truth regarding the abortion debate. Pointing to the measures proposed in Castilla y León, which gave women the possibility to listen to the fetal heartbeat and see a fetal radiograph. While the deputy believes this is a basic and necessary measure, she informed us that some in the European Parliament have argued that this measure infringed upon women’s integrity and is cruel and inhumane. She insisted that if this measure seems cruel and inhumane, it is because the fetal heartbeat carries a significant meaning. Further, she argued that the intense reactions and rejection of these measures betrays an intention to hide the truth and prevent women from being aware of what is happening.
In an optimistic tone, the parliamentarian assured us that the defense of the unborn is by no means lost. She encouraged pro-life individuals to continue expressing and actively defending this stance, because doing so helps to maintain visibility and support in society of this cause.
Regarding euthanasia, Margarita de la Pisa clarified that this practice is not widely accepted in Europe, and that there are opponents to it even within the socialist camp. She emphasized that Vox has maintained a firm stance against euthanasia; in contrast to the Partido Popular, whom she argued has not taken a definitive position on euthanasia and has previously adapted its values as needed to secure votes. In that sense, she highlighted the importance of Vox’s presence to defend what they consider natural and necessary.
Although pro-life Spaniards may feel defeated and abandoned, victory is not as far away as it seems. If this July 23 results in a government of the Right, the lives of those who cannot defend themselves, be they unborn or at the end of their life, will be closer to being protected. For this to happen, Vox must be a part of the government so that, together with the PP, they can create policies that defend life. There is good reason to believe that the pro-life gains in the USA can inspire similar gains in Spain.
By Enrique Tudela Saladich
 Clara González, Multan a una mujer por rezar el Rosario frente a un abortorio [Woman fined for praying the Rosary in front of an abortion center], ELDEBATE (July 7, 2020, 13:18), https://www.eldebate.com/familia/20220707/multan-mujer-rezar-rosario-frente-abortorio.html#utm_source=rrss-comp&utm_medium=em&utm_campaign=fixed-btn.
 S.T.C., May 9, 2023 (B.O.E. No. 139, p. 83708), https://www.boe.es/diario_boe/txt.php?id=BOE-A-2023-13955.
 Feijóo, sobre el aborto: «Una ley de plazos es correcta y por tanto constitucional» [Statement by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the president of the Partido Popular, "An abortion law is correct and therefore constitutional"], ELDEBATE, (Feb. 2, 2023, 16:26), https://www.eldebate.com/espana/20230209/feijoo-admite-ley-aborto-correcta-constitucional-fallo-alto-tribunal_92521.html
 PARTIDO POPULAR, PROGRAMA ELECTORAL UN PROYECTO AL SERVICIO DE UN GRAN PAÍS [ELECTORAL PROGRAM: A PROJECT IN SERVICE OF A GRAND COUNTRY], (2022), https://www.pp.es/sites/default/files/documentos/programa_electoral_pp_23j_feijoo_2023.pdf.
These three measures are respectively, 128: “Reform so that minors under 18 years of age cannot have an abortion without parental consent”; 129: “Defense of conscientious objection of health professionals”; and 138: "We will review the Euthanasia Law taking into consideration the opinion of the Bioethics Committee." Id. at 45, 46.
 Point 138: "We will review the Euthanasia Law taking into consideration the opinion of the Bioethics Committee". Id. at 46
Comité de Bioética de España, Informe del Comité de Bioética de España sobre el final de la vida y la atención en el proceso de morir, en el marco del debate sobre la regulación de la eutanasia: propuestas para la reflexión y la deliberación [report of the Bioethics Committee of Spain on the end of life and care in the dying process, within the framework of the debate on the regulation of euthanasia: proposals for reflection and deliberation for reflection and deliberation], (2020),
 VOX, PROGRAMA ELECTORAL PARA LAS ELECCIONES GENERALES [ELECTORAL PROGRAM FOR THE GENERAL ELECTIONS], at 170-72 pts 360-71 (2023), https://www.votaabascal.es/assets/pdf/Programa-VOX-2023.pdf
 Id. at 170, pt. 360.
 Id. pt. 361.
 Id. pt. 362.
 Id. at 171 pt. 366.
 Id. pt. 367.
 Id. at 172 pt. 369, 371.