Spain’s lower house voted on September 21 to consider a bill that would criminalize pro-life sidewalk counseling outside abortion businesses in the country.
The bill was proposed by the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in May and was advanced last week by the Congress of Deputies in a vote of 199 to 144. It states that it would criminalize “harassing women going to facilities for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy.” It classifies “harassment” as “approaching women with photographs, model fetuses, and proclamations against abortion … [in which] the objective is for the women to change their decision through coercion, intimidation, and harassment.”
As reported by the National Catholic Register, this would make it illegal for pro-life activists to participate in actively helping women choose life for their babies before going through with a planned or possible abortion. This would include Life Ambulance, a group that offers free ultrasounds to women outside of abortion businesses.
If the bill becomes law, penalties for helping abortion-vulnerable women include three months to a year in jail or community service for at least 31 days up to 80 days. A pro-lifer could also be prohibited from returning to the abortion business for six months to three years.
According to the Spanish ABC, María Teresa Angulo Romero of the People’s Party said the bill penalizes “fundamental rights such as freedom of speech or assembly because what underlies is a sectarian limitation of rights because of the ideas of those who exercise them.”
“You don’t want to penalize supposed coercion,” she said, “if so, your proposal would be unnecessary because the Penal Code already covers coercion. You want to prohibit the right of assembly or free speech where and by whom you don’t like.”
Likewise, Vox party member María Ruiz Solás said the bill seeks to criminalize being pro-life and the goal “for women to know that there are other options than abortion.”
Despite the pro-abortion claim that pro-life sidewalk counselors are coercing women into keeping their babies, the truth is that many women who encounter sidewalk counselors outside of abortion businesses are grateful for the support. One woman who had an abortion said she wished a pro-life sidewalk counselor had been there that day to help her realize her other options.
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