Mon Jan 20, 2014 5:24AM
Hundreds of people protest against abortion in Paris on January 19, 2014.
Hundreds of people protest against abortion in Paris on January 19, 2014.

Thousands of people have rallied against abortion in Paris, France ahead of a parliamentary debate on a bill that would make it easier for women to terminate their pregnancy.

Organizers, including associations for handicapped children, said around 40,000 people participated in the March for Life rally on Sunday. French police, however, put the number at 16,000.

According to reports, many of the demonstrators waved Spanish flags to pay homage to Madrid’s decision to consider legislation aimed at heavily restricting abortions.

The draft bill, which was agreed by the Spanish Conservative government earlier last month, allows the termination of a pregnancy only if it was the result of rape or if having the baby would significantly endanger the mother’s health.

The draft law also eliminates the option of abortion on request in the case of malformation of the fetus.

France’s left-leaning parliament is to start a debate on a bill on Monday, which would permit a woman to obtain an abortion if she wishes to terminate her pregnancy.

The new bill would also punish those who try to prevent a woman from entering places where she can receive information on abortion.

Based on the current law, abortion is permitted only if the mother shows that having a baby would put her “in a situation of distress.”

Around 220,000 abortions are recorded every year in France and according to estimates, about one in three French women undergo the procedure in their lifetime.