Plenary of the Spanish Episcopal Conference. / Credit: CEE

ACI Prensa Staff, May 11, 2023 / 11:00 am (CNA).

The Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE) criticized the May 9 ruling by the country’s constitutional court (TC) that upheld abortion as a right, thus, it said, making the human person developing in the womb “a true undocumented person.”

The executive commission of the CEE said in a statement that it deplores that the TC affirmed “that there are human beings who do not have rights” by supporting “an ideological, unscientific law that promotes inequality.”

The prelates reasoned that “the right to abortion could only be affirmed in the case that the embryo or fetus were nothing; but the unborn child is not a thing, he is a human being.”

The bishops further stated that “classifying the voluntary elimination of the life of an innocent human being as a right is always morally wrong.”

Spain and other countries use the euphemism “voluntary interruption of pregnancy” for abortion.

With the TC upholding the law passed in 2010, the “nasciturus” becomes “a true ‘undocumented’ candidate for expulsion from the mother’s womb,” the bishops’ conference underscored.

The bishops reiterated their “unconditional support for women who suffer the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy, offering them the effective help of the Church.”

The prelates pointed out that with the court’s decision “the rights and obligations of the father of the unborn child are infringed and censored.”

According to the CEE, this “right … ceases to be such because it is no longer solidly based on the inviolable dignity of the person but rather remains subject to the will of the strongest.”

Citing John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the bishops emphasized that “democracy, despite its rules, goes down a path of fundamental totalitarianism.”

The pastors also invited health care professionals to “exercise their right to conscientious and scientific objection,” since laws such as the one just upheld “establish a grave and requisite obligation to oppose them.”

Finally, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference called on the People of God and all people of goodwill “to reject any attack on life and to continue working with courage and creativity to establish the much-needed culture of life.”

“It would be very serious to sit idly by thinking that nothing can be done anymore,” they concluded.

A much-delayed decision

The court’s split decision ruled on the appeal filed more than a decade ago against the abortion law passed in 2010. The legislation went beyond the 1985 law that decriminalized abortion in cases of risk to the physical or mental health of the mother, rape, and fetal deformities by establishing a period of 14 weeks of pregnancy for abortion on demand. 

The same year that the law was passed, 20 legislators challenged its constitutionality in an appeal to the TC on the basis of Article 15 of the Spanish Constitution, which states that “everyone has the right to life and physical and moral integrity.” 

The court said the case was a “priority,” but for more than a decade it did not address the appeal. Meanwhile, it issued decisions on 2,146 cases.

In June 2021 those same (then former) lawmakers filed a suit with the European Court of Human Rights against the TC for violating the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees a decision on a case without undue delays.

The TC has now finally ruled on the 2010 law, claiming that the gestational limit of 14 weeks of pregnancy for abortion on demand “guarantees the state’s duty to protect prenatal life.” 

In a May 9 press release, the TC said its decision was based on the fact that “there is a gradual limitation of the constitutional rights of women depending on the progress of the pregnancy and the physiological-vital development of the fetus.” 

The country’s highest court in constitutional matters upheld the system of gestational limits because “it recognizes the pregnant woman’s reasonable scope of self-determination.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.