Spanish legislators held a secret ballot on Tuesday to push ahead with a controversial new law that would restrict access to abortion in the country.
The conservative-dominated Parliament voted 183 to 151 against abandoning the proposed changes to the abortion law. Introduced in December, the new provisions would make abortion illegal except in the case of rape or if there is a proven risk to the mental or physical health of the mother, reports the Guardian.
Legislators decided to hold the vote in secret in order to encourage MPs “to have the freedom to express how they really feel about the issue,” said Carmen Montón of the Spanish Socialist Workers party. The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has championed the changes as a fulfillment of the governing right-wing People’s party electoral promise, striking down a 2010 Socialist party law that relaxed abortion rules.
Polls indicate that 70% to 80% of Spaniards are against the new restrictions to abortion. Women’s groups have slammed the changes as a step back, and demonstrations and protests have taken place in Madrid and elsewhere in the country in opposition to the changes.