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.