Women protesting Spain’s new, restrictive abortion legislation in Madrid were hit by police officers with batons. The incident was recorded on a video that quickly went viral.
500 protestors from Spain’s “We Decide” group gathered in front of the Ministry of Justice to demand the resignation of Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón and the withdrawal of the abortion bill, according to Spanish English-language news source The Local. The demonstration was peaceful, but police officers swooped in after, at Madrid’s Plaza Jacinto Benavente.
In the clip, filmed by the group Periodismo Humano, cops attack one protestor, and the confrontations escalate. The officers push, grab, and strike the women to the ground with their batons.
One protestor can be heard shouting, “Son of a bitch, don’t touch me.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that tens of thousands of people in 21 cities took to the streets to protest the bill with placards reading, “Abortion is not a crime.”
Some were women’s rights activists, and others opponents to Spain’s ruling Partido Popular, which seeks to regain popularity with conservative voters after losing favor during Spain’s economic recession.
A 2010 law expanded abortion rights, making abortion legal before the 14th week of pregnancy. That law eliminated restrictions tethered to Spain’s 1985 legalization of abortion, which the new legislation seeks to restore. The new bill would only allow it in cases of rape and serious heath risk to the mother or fetus.
Opponents to the bill say it will regress Spain to the 1980s and increase the number of “back alley” abortions.
“All they will do is oblige women with fewer resources to terminate their pregnancies in unsafe conditions, which can put their lives in danger,” Yolanda Rodriguez, a physician active in Spain's abortion-rights lobby, told the Wall Street Journal.
The Independent reported that 81 percent of Spaniards oppose changes to Spain’s abortion laws, according to a 2012 poll.
Along with secret abortion operations, women’s rights activists also foresee an increase of “abortion tourism,” with women traveling to Britain to have abortions.
According to the Spain’s version of The Huffington Post, three women were arrested during the Madrid clashes for disobedience, resistances and assault on a law enforcement officer.