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Minister blasts Spain's 'stone age' abortion law

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Minister blasts Spain's 'stone age' abortion law
Between 16,000 and 40,000 marchers took to the streets of Paris to protest against a new abortion bill. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP
15:29 CET+01:00
A Spanish plan to tighten abortion laws will take women back to the Stone Age, French Minister Marisol Touraine said on Tuesday as lawmakers in the National Assembly debated France's own controversial bill that would make it easier for women to get an abortion.

Touraine's broadside came amid a debate on a controversial new abortion law in France that would scrap a requirement for women to prove they are in distress to legally terminate a pregnancy.

"The proposed Spanish law constitutes an unprecedented regressive step that will take women back to the Stone Age," Touraine said in her New Year wishes to the press.

She called for action to ensure that "this proposal is not accepted."

Spain's conservative government, under pressure from the Catholic Church, last month said it would roll back a 2010 law allowing women to freely opt for abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The legislation, yet to pass parliament where the ruling Popular Party enjoys an absolute majority, would allow abortion only in cases of rape or a threat to the physical or psychological health of the mother.

France's leftwing-dominated parliament Monday started debating a wide-ranging bill, including a proposal allowing a woman to obtain an abortion at will up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy.

Under a 1975 law, the woman must prove that having a baby would put her "in a situation of distress".

The new French bill would also punish those who try to prevent a woman from entering places where she can receive information on abortion.

France records around 220,000 abortions a year, and it is estimated that around one Frenchwoman in three undergoes the procedure in her lifetime.

The state health system began reimbursing abortion costs about a year ago.

The changes in France are part of a wide-ranging new legislation on gender equality. The other measures include extending paternity leave to six months and scrapping beauty pageants for girls under 13.

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