by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
SPAIN, November 17, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Stung by plummeting poll numbers and stark criticisms by Pope Benedict XVI during his recent national visit, Spain's socialist prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero is defending some of his most controversial policies, including legalizing abortion on demand during the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy, and institutionalizing homosexual "marriage."
The country is in the final few weeks of an election campaign.
At a campaign rally in the socialist stronghold of Barcelona, Zapatero responded to his rival for the office of prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, who recently blasted Zapatero for disappearing from Spain during the papal visit.
"What does Rajoy want, that we pass the laws that the pope wants?" asked Zapatero. "By no means! We will pass the laws the Parliament and the citizens of this country want."
Zapatero also denounced the Catholic Church for "decades and decades" of imposition of "laws, codes of conduct, and a particular form of seeing life and religion" in Spain. Today the majority of Spaniards want to be "free and for no one to impose morality on them" because now "everyone freely chooses his own morality," he said.
Although Zapatero's words are likely to be well received in the far-left region of Catalonia, his pro-abortion policies have not met with the same response in the rest of the country. Opinion polls have repeatedly shown that Spaniards, especially women, are opposed to his new abortion law, which even permits 16 year olds to have their unborn children killed without parental consent.
Opinion polls currently show Zapatero and Rajoy neck-in-neck, with only a one percentage point lead for Zapatero.