On 17 October 2009, Madrid became the Capital of Life for several hours, when over 1.5 million people gathered to protest the new abortion bill that Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the socialists want to approve in the Congress.
Many aspects make this march noteworthy. The first is the unity displayed.
More than 40 pro-life groups from the whole of Spain coordinated this march to send a message to the Spanish government that a very large portion of society disagreed with this new law. These same pro-life groups have opposed every abortion since 1985, when the previous socialist administration first legalized abortion in Spain.
Secondly, the 1.5 million protestors send a strong message that public opinion is firmly against abortion.
The protesters constitute more than 3% of Spain’s 48 million citizens, all gathered in the capital to make a stand for Life.
Consider the results of a poll by the Spanish Family Forum, which show that only 21% of Spaniards condone unrestricted abortion, while 27% seek a full abortion ban, and 50% personally oppose abortion but think it should be allowed in certain cases. This reinforces the findings of PRI’s own public opinion studies: the media battle has been lost by President Zapatero and his Socialist Party.
But the public outcry against abortion alone does not constitute reform. Many times we in the pro-life movement have thought that getting public opinion on our side would be sufficient to effect real change. This is not the case. Only 24 hours after the Madrid march, representatives of the Socialist Party in Congress spoke of continuing with the bill, regardless of the outcry, and sadly, they can force it if they choose. They have a majority due to an alliance with small portions of left-leaning representatives who have their own interest in the abortion bill.
This new pro-life shift in popular opinion can’t beat the mathematical advantage of the abortion axis in Congress.
However, this very crisis is causing many citizens to make the defense of life and family a central issue in the upcoming Spanish elections, who will not content themselves with simply voting for the “lesser evil.”
Over the next two and a half years leading up to the elections the Life issue will definitely be a defining one for politicians.
Already, President Zapatero has become very unpopular with the Spanish people on account of his commitment to passing this abortion bill. Some analysts believe that the abortion issue will seriously hurt the Socialist Party in the next elections.
This issue connects us to the other major party of Spain, the Popular Party. Some of its leaders joined in the march.
Many of the pro-lifers were uncomfortable with the presence of former President José María Aznar. Though he now marches with pro-lifers, back when he was in office neither he nor anyone in his party took real action against abortion.
In the final analysis, though, his fellow marchers were positive about his attendance, as it allows pro-lifers to make definite demands for the upcoming election, and they form a large majority of the Spanish people.
Today, pro-lifers in Spain have three conditions that a politician must meet to be considered a “Friend of Life.” First, he must take action to get the abortion bill removed from parliamentary debate. Second, if the bill is approved into law, he must bring an appeal to the Constitutional Court. Third, he must publicly promise to fight against abortion if elected.
For now, the Popular Party has agreed to the first and second conditions. On the third, however, they have yet to comment. Fortunately, pro-life groups now know their strength, given the massive turnout at the march, and these groups are going to make their demands heard in the next election.
Just recently, this newfound power of the pro-life people of Spain showed itself, when a slew of e-mails from members of “Right to Life” convinced the Popular Party to postpone a meeting scheduled for October 17 in Barcelona. This seems to indicate that Spanish society has grown tired of abortion, and is now capitalizing on the great power of its unity to effect change.
On October 16, at the request of the Spanish Family Forum and the National Association of Parents, the Efrat Institute published an informative piece called “The Abortion Business in Spain,” which revealed that the abortion industry has evaded paying some 50 million euros in taxes since 2007. (The Efrat Institute is a consulting and research organization concerned with the activities of public life.)
The president of the Efrat Institute, David del Fresno, states: “The ‘abortion industry’ is the only industry that has public evidence of earning up to twice what they declare on their taxes without the Treasury at least opening an investigation. It’s unusual. If a normal citizen shows any disproportion between his income and his possessions, a Treasury investigator starts an audit immediately. The abortion clinics seem to be immune to this logic.
The pro-life and pro-family groups are demanding that the Treasury Minister investigate the 80 registered abortion clinics in order uncover and end the fraud. Should the Minister fail to open these investigations, there would be yet another black mark against the Socialist government on Spain’s election day.
Much has been said about the October 17th protest, especially in the pro-socialist media in Spain. But as always we believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. So we invite you to watch the video and make your own conclusions.
Spain is waking up and her hopes for the future are as big as this march in Madrid.
[27Oct09, www.pop.org, PRI Weekly Briefing,
Carlos Beltramo is a European Correspondent for the Population Research Institute]