The Gibraltar Pro Life Movement (GPLM) expresses its concern with the Government’s draft bill on abortion law, particularly its claim that “the process of consultation on abortion was promoted solely by the case of the Supreme Court Ruling of the UK on the legality of the law on abortion in Northern Ireland”.
The GPLM would like to stress that the matter of margin of appreciation to individual legislatures has been authoritatively recognised by the UK Supreme court last year in the Northern Ireland case and by the European Court in ABC v Ireland, which means that the Gibraltar Government is under no legal obligation to liberalise the law on abortion. Moreover, the 1959 UN Declaration clearly states that countries should make provision for the right to life and legal protection of the unborn. The GPLM feels that HMGoG has a substantial mandate in respect of this, as over 6,300 persons within our community signed our petition requesting that the unborn’s undeniable right to life be recognised in our laws.
The proposed draft bill is almost a duplication of the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act, which effectively allows abortion on request by permitting terminations in cases where the mother’s mental health is deemed to be at risk. This clause, which has been included in the draft bill, accounted for around 98% of all 194,668 abortions performed in England and Wales in 2017. This amounts to 600 abortions every working day, with an increase of 2.3% in the number of abortions from 2016-2017. This is only one of many concerns which the GPLM have as regards the draft bill.
The passing of this draft bill as it stands would be tantamount to undermining the principle purpose of all the Laws of Gibraltar. That is to protect, care for and educate its citizens: especially the weakest and most vulnerable. It would furthermore legalise a serious betrayal of future generations of Gibraltarians.
We therefore call upon HMGoG to fully review its position before enacting any reform for which there is no legal obligation or necessity.
The GPLM continues to highlight the full humanity of the unborn child (whose heartbeat can be detected as early as 18-22 days after conception). It maintains that the way forward is for Government to uphold the value of life and ensure the well being of both mother and child.
The Government, together with the wider community should strive to provide support to parents in difficult situations, in order to promote sustainable family life, and also make provisions to improve peri-natal care, paediatric palliative care and professional bereavement support for parents. The GPLM looks forward to further consultation with Government and will continue to assist families in need as best possible.