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Oct 18, 2009 at 08:06am IST

One million protest abortion reforms in Spain

Madrid: More than one million people took to the streets of Madrid to condemn plans by Spain's socialist government to liberalise abortion laws in the overwhelmingly Catholic country, organisers said.

In warm autumnal sunshine, protesters staged an early evening march across the city behind a huge banner reading "Every Life Matters" to protest the plan, which would allow girls of 16 to undergo abortions without their parents' consent.

The crowd, which included many families and people of all ages, rallied in the central Plaza de Independencia, where pop music blared over loudspeakers and 300 white helium balloons were released.

HEAR US: Demonstrators hold a banner during a march against a bill to ease restrictions on abortion, in Madrid.

"The presence of each of you here today in this demonstration is a commitment to the fight for life," Benigno Blanco, the head of the Forum for the Family, one of the chief organisers, told the crowd.

"Those of you who govern us must listen to the voice from the streets," he said.

A spokesman for another of the organisers, HazteOir (Make Yourself Heard), said 1.5 million people attended the march and rally, while the Madrid regional government estimated the crowd at 1.2 million.

Organisers said 600 buses and several planes were used to bring the supporters of 42 Spanish anti-abortion and Catholic associations to the capital for the protest, which is also backed by the conservative opposition Popular Party (PP) and the Roman Catholic Church.

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