"I have the most important support a minister can get to forge ahead with a project, and that is the support of the prime minister and of the government in full," said the former mayor of Madrid on Thursday at the inauguration of an international symposium on religious plurality.
His statements seemed to ignore the public misgivings expressed recently by other leading members of the Popular Party (PP) over the bill, including Extremadura premier José Antonio Monago and the deputy speaker of Congress, Celia Villalobos, who has requested the right to a conscience vote.
On Thursday, the city of Paterna (Valencia), also ruled by the PP, joined the critics in asking the government to pull the bill and "reject the backward step that its passing would mean."
Gallardón's reform proposes going back to a ban on abortion save for specific cases, rather than abortion on demand in the first trimester as is currently available under the 2010 law introduced by the Socialists. The bill also eliminates the possibility of terminating a pregnancy if the fetus is suffering from serious congenital disorders.
Eliminating a child with malformations is tantamount to selecting the species"
The Paterna motion states that "restrictive abortion laws" do not reduce the number of abortions, "they only increase the number of women who die or damage their health because they are turning to clandestine abortions in insalubrious conditions." The text also notes that Spain's current legislation is "the most widely extended in European countries, many of them governed by conservative parties."
Also on Thursday, Spain's bishops came out in defense of Gallardón. "We bishops always celebrate initiatives that are in favor of human life, no matter where they come from. That is why we see in the bill introduced by the current government a positive advance compared with existing legislation, which considers abortion a right."
"Eliminating a child with malformations would be tantamount to selecting the species, and would open the door to inhumanity," said Gil Tamayo, spokesman for the Spanish Episcopal Conference. "What we need are social policies and laws that truly assist the weakest. The elimination of an innocent being is never the solution to a problem, because in that case we could end world hunger by eliminating people, and that way we'd all get more."