Spain's conservative Popular Party (PP) has pledged that pregnant illegal immigrants will be able to avoid deportation by giving their baby up for adoption, if the party wins April's election.

The PP, Spain's main opposition group, has drawn up the maternity plan to boost childbirth figures in ageing Spain, which includes the proposal to give undocumented migrant women a stay on repatriation if they agree to adoption.

The suggestion has caused fury among rival parties and NGOs.

"It's a racist and fascist barbarity," said Jose Ignacio Garcia, a spokesman for the Podemos party in Andalusia, the region where the PP has governed since January in coalition with the liberal Ciudadanos party, supported by the far-right, anti-immigration Vox.

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Rafael Simancas, a parliamentary spokesman for the governing Socialist party, said the idea was "the cruellest thing we have ever heard".

"Saying to an immigrant: 'Either you give me your child or I'll expel you from the country' is completely unacceptable," Simancas added.

Most recent polls suggest that the PP, Vox and Ciudadanos will together win a majority in Spain's April 28 general election, and constitute the only logical ruling coalition.

Cuca Gamarra, a member of the PP's social policies team, claimed the move would save babies from being abandoned and dying. "Sadly, many still show up in rubbish bins, and that is what is inhuman and cruel," Gamarra wrote on Twitter in response to the criticism.

The proposal is part of a maternity reform package presented by PP leader Pablo Casado to stave off what he has described as a "demographic winter" in Spain, where the fertility rate stands at 1.33 children per woman.

In the European Union, only Portugal has a lower rate — of 1.29.

The PP has stressed that the protection from repatriation would only be temporary to cover the pregnancy period, offering women protection from any possibility of the police locating them from information given during the adoption process.

But CEAR, Spain's leading agency for refugees, said the proposal marked "another turn of the screw in the stigmatising of migrant peoples, in this case affecting the weakest link, pregnant women in irregular administrative situations".