MADRID, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Spanish lawmakers voted down an attempt to derail legislation pending in Parliament that would dramatically restrict abortion access in the country.
In the secret ballot initiated by the Socialist Parliamentary Group, members of Parliament voted 183 to 151 Tuesday against abandoning the proposed changes to Spain's abortion law, Britain's the Guardian reported.
The secret vote was an effort to foil the bill before it was put to a general vote, said Carmen Monton of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party.
The legislation would enact some of the toughest abortion regulations seen in Europe, the Guardian said. The proposed changes would criminalize abortion except in the case of rape or when the mother's physical and mental health are at risk. Under provisions of the bill, women seeking abortions would need two doctors to verify these requirements were met.
"We want ... parliamentarians -- especially the women -- to have the freedom to express how they really feel about the issue," Monton said before the vote.
"The majority of Spaniards don't want this reform," she said.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has defended the proposed changes, arguing they fulfilled an electoral promise. The Catholic Church also has backed the changes.
Among Spanish citizens, however, the proposal is unpopular. Polls indicate between 70 percent and 80 percent of voters expressed opposition to rolling back the country's abortion laws.