Robust laws protecting babies from abortion are to be abandoned in Gibraltar following a national referendum.
Currently abortion is illegal in the British territory, but it is soon to be decriminalised after 62 per cent of voters supported a change in the law.
The Government of Gibraltar has pledged that new legislation, permitting abortion up to 12 weeks, will be introduced before the end of the month.
Abortion on demand
Under the amended law, abortion will be allowed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to protect the life of the mother, where the mother’s physical or mental health is deemed to be at risk, or it is believed the baby has a ‘fatal abnormality’.
It will change forever the value we put on the lives of our unborn babies
But campaigners fear the mental health clause is so “flexible” that it will effectively allow “abortion on demand in Gibraltar” up to the 12-week limit.
Speaking ahead of the vote, pro-life campaigner Karenza Morillo warned: “There is one simple message today. This law is too extreme. It will change forever the value we put on the lives of our unborn babies”.
She also said that removing protections would “bring to the shores of Gibraltar a culture that in other countries has resulted in massive loss of unborn human life over many years”.
Prior to the referendum, a group of eight Peers – including Baroness Stroud of Fulham and Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick – wrote to the people of Gibraltar urging them to reject the recommended changes in abortion law.
The letter stated: “Previous generations did not have a window to the womb like we have now. It is indisputable that unborn children are human beings. Their inherent dignity deserves protection.”
It is indisputable that unborn children are human beings….There is nothing progressive or forward-looking about taking legal protection from a whole group of human beings.
It also said: “There is nothing progressive or forward-looking about taking legal protection from a whole group of human beings.”
The signatories added: “Unborn children are members of the human family. We ask you to stand in solidarity with them and to vote No.”
The change came ahead of a stalled attempt to repeal all legal protections for the unborn in England and Wales.
In the House of Commons on Monday evening, Dame Diana Johnson MP withdrew her amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would have introduced abortion on demand up to birth.
Responding to the withdrawal, Christian MP Fiona Bruce said: “Let today be a turning point in our approach towards the review of this country’s abortion laws. Let us determine to secure better protection for the unborn child and for women, not worse.”
She added that such a proposal had “no place in a compassionate, civilised and humane society”.