Madrid, Spain, Jun 9, 2021 / 17:00 pm
The secretary general of the Spanish bishops’ conference on Saturday questioned on Twitter a bill proposed by the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party that would criminalize “harassment” of women entering abortion clinics.
“They have decriminalized ‘informational pickets’; they want to penalize those who give information to mothers who are going in to have an abortion. It is worrisome for our democracy when criminal law is used for or against specific people or to suit a partisan ideology,” Bishop Luis Javier Argüello Garcia, an auxiliary bishop of Valladolid, tweeted June 5.
The bill introduced May 21 by the PSOE’s coalition in the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of Spain’s legislature, would criminalize "harassing women going to clinics for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy."
Penalties for what would be deemed harassment would include jail terms of three months to a year, or community service from 31 to 80 days. Depending on circumstances, an individual could also be barred from a particular location for between six months and three years.
In the exposition of motives for introducing the bill, the PSOE characterized the “harassment” of pro-life witness at abortion clinics as “approaching women with photographs, model fetuses, and proclamations against abortion … the objective is for the women to change their decision through coercion, intimidation, and harassment.”
The socialist parliamentary group said it “considers it essential to guarantee a safety zone” around abortion clinics.
Anyone promoting, favoring, or participating in demonstrations near abortion clinics would be subject to penalties.
One outreach the bill could ban is Life Ambulance, which offers “a free ultrasound in front of the abortion clinic to show the mother the reality of her child and the heartbeat of her baby.”