The Spanish government approved a plan Friday to ease restrictions on abortion and allow the procedure on demand up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, despite heavy opposition from conservatives and the Catholic church.

Under the current law, which was introduced in 1985, abortion is permitted in specific cases, such as rape up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to 22 weeks in the case of foetal malformaiton.

The new proposal would bring Spain in line, with other European Countries’ abortion laws. European Commission statistics show that in 2004 abortion was relatively more common in Spain than in Germany, where laws are more liberal.

Fernandez de la Vega, says “The most important thing about this law, what it seeks, is to protect women’s dignity. That is its spirit, from beginning to end”. The Catholic church condemns the proposals and has started a campaign against it.