Madrid – Spanish Catholic bishops have condemned government-backed legislation to criminalize prayers and protests outside abortion clinics, as well as plans for a registry of doctors refusing to perform abortions.
“The right to freedom of expression and protest must be recognized,” said Auxiliary Bishop Luis ArgÃ¼ello Garcia de Valladolid, secretary general of the bishops’ conference.
âPeople who pray around these clinics do so on their own initiative, recalling the sacred dignity of human life and offering information on alternatives to abortion. It is worrying that preventing life is seen as a sign of progress, while opposing abortion is seen as ultra-conservative, âhe said at a press conference on September 30, when the government was pursuing its plan to toughen Spain’s abortion law by criminalizing actions outside clinics.
He added: âIf a right to abortion is legally recognized, the right to freedom of expression and demonstration must also be recognized, as well as the possibility of imparting information.
The bill would prescribe up to one year in prison or community service for “women making fun of public”. Socialist Party godmother Laura Berja told lawmakers that “insulting women and calling them murderers” was “not free speech, but criminal coercion.”
Church leaders have also criticized Equality Minister Irene Montero’s plans to create a registry of physicians conscientiously opposing abortion.
In a statement at the end of September, the director of the Spanish Family Forum, Javier Rodriguez, said the registry would create “new mechanisms to persecute and silence dissidents” and force medical professionals “to act not only against them. beliefs and values, but also against their code of ethics. “
Meanwhile, the College of Physicians of Madrid warned on September 26 that the measure “would muzzle those who think differently” and modify “the whole system of freedoms”, adding that it risked violating the European Convention on Human Rights. the man of 1950.
Spanish Catholic weekly Alfa y Omega said pressure on October 1 was also increasing to ban conscientious objection so that doctors could choose not to perform euthanasia. The newspaper said that “attempts by the media to create a climate of opinion” against conscientious objection had already led to “very unpleasant situations for objectors”.
Speaking after a two-day meeting of the Permanent Council of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Archbishop ArgÃ¼ello urged medical organizations to oppose measures that âwould affect the right to freedom of conscienceâ.
“It is a time when we talk so much about data protection, respect for the conscience and the freedom of each one”, he declared during a press conference in Madrid.
âIf the argument for the creation of this register is to better organize these provisions, why are those who wish to perform abortion or euthanasia not registered?
The Catholic Church represents 62% of Spain’s 47 million inhabitants, according to 2020 data, and has also criticized government-backed legislation facilitating same-sex marriage, secularized education and euthanasia funded by the ‘State.
A draft “trans law”, allowing people over 16 to re-register their sex through judicial declaration without medical procedures or religion, law and morals, crime and sin “, must be adopted in October.