MADRID - Spain on Wednesday approved a sweeping new law that eases restrictions on abortion, declaring the practice a woman's right and doing away with the threat of imprisonment, in part of a drive toward liberal policies that has angered conservatives and the Catholic Church.
The new law allows the procedure without restrictions up to 14 weeks and gives 16- and 17-year-olds the right to have abortions without parental consent. The senate's passage of the bill Wednesday gives it final approval.
The bill brings the country in line with its more secular neighbors in northern Europe is the latest of a series of bold social reforms undertaken by Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who first took office in 2004 and has ruffled feathers among many in the traditionally Catholic country.
Carmen Duenas, a spokeswoman for the leading conservative opposition Popular Party in the Senate, accused the government of trying "to bring in unrestricted abortion."
"The government wants to do away with one of the pillars of Spanish society, which is the family," she said.
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