October 28, 2009
This past Saturday, a demonstration in Madrid drew an estimated one and a half million protesters. That's between 3 and 4 percent of Spain's entire population, the equivalent of 9 to 12 million Americans gathering in Washington.
What government policy were they demonstrating against? Sending troops to Afghanistan? Was it Spain's nearly 20 percent unemployment rate?
None of those—they were protesting a proposal to liberalize Spain's abortion laws. They were there to tell the government, their fellow Spaniards, and the rest of the world that "every life matters."
The proposal would legalize abortions for any reason through the 14th week. In addition, it would have allowed 16- and 17-year-old girls to have an abortion without their parents' consent.
As Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero put it, the government should not "intervene in the free and private decision of a woman."
The response was a coalition whose Spanish name means "every life matters." It's motto is: "For life, for women, and for motherhood." According to the coalition, the proposal would have two victims—the first, the unborn child who would be stripped of all legal protection; the other, Spanish women whose ability and even right to be mothers are being eroded by measures like the government's proposal.
For the demonstrators, instead of supporting Spanish women seeking to have children and creating a safety net for women in crisis, the government is intent on promoting its view of sexuality and personal autonomy.
In their view, a country with one of the lowest birth rates in the world is trying to make it more difficult for women to have children and easier to dispose of the relative few children who are being conceived.
The perversity of this proposal is why all these people converged on Madrid. They held signs saying, "Worry about your own daughters, leave ours in peace." One marcher, who attended the march with his wife and their three adult children, called the proposed law "barbarism." He added that "in this country, they protect animals more than human beings."
He's not exaggerating. A year ago, a parliamentary committee voted to give apes the "right to life" and "freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty."
Preventing this barbarism was the primary reason more than a million Spaniards, including former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, gathered in Madrid, but it wasn't the only reason.
The other goal was to send a message to other countries where the right to life and related issues are being debated. That message is, "No matter what the law says, know this: the battle goes on and we will continue to work towards a culture of life."
That's something worth knowing. It's tempting to think that nothing we do can change things. But there's nothing inevitable or irreversible about the status quo—it can be changed. At the very least, we should be willing to make our refusal to go along with barbarism as clear as the people in Madrid.
That's because "every life matters," including the way we live our own.
This commentary delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.