(CNSNews.com) – As President Barack Obama met with Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on Tuesday, pro-life activists gathered on Capitol Hill to condemn both leaders’ pro-abortion policies, including Zapatero’s support for a Spanish law awaiting approval by Parliament that would make abortion available on demand to women 16 and older.
“What we are trying to do here is get the people to realize that there are alternatives to abortion, which is being promoted by Zapatero,” Walter Hintz of Madrid told CNSNews.com at the demonstration.
Wearing red hats and shirts emblazoned with a heart and the words derecho a vivir (right to live), Hintz and other pro-lifers from the United States and Spain gathered in front of the White House and marched to nearby Blair House, the official accommodation for state guests.
The legislation Zapatero supports would overturn a law in place since 1985 that allows abortion only in the case of rape, fetal malformations, or if a mother’s mental or physical health is in jeopardy.
The new law would allow abortion-on-demand for women 16 or older, up to 14 weeks gestation, and up to 22 weeks gestation if the mother’s health is at risk or if the unborn baby has congenital defects. The law also would not require parental consent for women under 18.
Hintz said that the mental health exception already allows abortions to be routinely performed in Spain, and if the law passes even more abortions will take place.
“They are speaking now about rights of abortion instead of what it is today, which is a crime that is not being punished,” Hintz said. “After this law, they’ll say, ‘This is your right to kill the unborn.’”
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative women’s advocacy organization, said her group wanted to show support for like-minded people in Spain.
“Americans have seen how devastating abortion is,” Wright told CNSNews.com. “We’ve seen when the laws have been liberalized it increases the number of abortions, and the number of women who are hurt by abortion massively increases.”
“We don’t wish that upon anyone,” Wright said. “So we are standing with Spaniards and echoing their desire for the respect of unborn human life to continue in Spain.”
Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, said Obama and Zapatero have one thing in common - their support for abortion.
“The progress of every civilization has been to move toward the affirmation of the value of human life, not away from it,” Schenck told CNSNews.com. “So in that sense, sadly, Spain and the United States occupy a similar backward movement and that is toward a disregard for the dignity and value of human life.
“So we’re saying to our neighbor country Spain to affirm a civilization that values all human life and to our own country, the United States, to work with other nations in advancing a culture of life that affirms the value and dignity of every human being regardless of how large or small they may be,” Schenck said.
The socialist Spanish government passed the controversial abortion legislation in a cabinet meeting in September, despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, the conservative opposition Popular Party and even some Zapatero supporters. It still must be approved by Parliament.
ABC News reported in September that a Spanish opinion poll in June revealed that 64 percent of people oppose the measure allowing 16-year-olds to have abortions without parental consent. Another poll by the left-wing newspaper El Pais showed that 56 percent of socialists also oppose the measure.
At a conference of Spanish Catholic bishops in June, a document was posted online that detailed why the abortion legislation should not be approved, according to Catholic News Service.
In the document, “Declaration on the Draft Bill of the ‘Abortion Law’: Endangering the Life of the Unborn,” the bishops quote Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), and the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), which calls abortion and infanticide “unspeakable crimes.”
“The bishops, who on numerous occasions have announced the gospel of life and denounced the culture of death, wish to emphasize some aspects of the draft bill in question that, upon becoming law, would be a serious regression in the protection of an unborn life, a major abandonment of the pregnant mothers and, finally, a very serious danger for the common good,” the document said.
The Spanish Family Forum, a coalition of Catholic groups, has planned a demonstration against the abortion law in Madrid on Oct. 17. Hintz said he will be in attendance.
“We think this will be by far the largest gathering of regular pro-life rights (activists) in Madrid and maybe in Europe,” Hintz said.