Moves to Liberalise Manx Abortion Law
The Isle of Man looks set to further liberalise its abortion laws after members of its legislature voted to consider a private member’s bill on the issue. Members of the House of Keys voted to give MHK Dr Alex Allinson leave to introduce a bill on what is likely to be one of the most controversial topics to be dealt with by the new administration.
Only three MHKs voted against – including the Minister for Health and Social Care.
Pro-life campaigners from HEAR gathered outside the Tynwald building ahead of the debate. Abortion campaigners CALM said in a statement they were thrilled with the outcome of the vote.
Dr Allinson told the House of Keys that the 1995 Act that legalised abortion is “unjust and unfair” and had been designed to protect medical professionals from prosecution – at the expense, he claimed, of pregnant women’s healthcare.
The 1995 Act allows abortions up to 24 weeks to preserve the woman’s life, if the baby is unlikely to survive or is seriously handicapped, or within 12 weeks of conception if the pregnancy is caused by rape, incest or indecent assault.
The number of abortions each year under the 1995 Act runs to single figures but it is estimated that over 100 Manx women travel to Britain every year for abortions.
Dr Allinson’s bill would allow abortion on request up to 14 weeks and up to 24 weeks if there are serious health concerns, serious social grounds or severe foetal abnormalities.
Only three MHKs voted against Dr Allinson’s motion – Health Minister Kate Beecroft, Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer and Douglas East MHK Chris Robertshaw.
Mrs Beecroft said any legislation should be based on evidence and the view in her department was that ‘the evidence does not come down clearly on either side’.
Mr Robertshaw had tabled an amendment that called for a select committee to look at the need for any change in the abortion law and that leave for the private members’ bill be given only when ‘sufficient’ evidence had been collected.
This amendment, and two others failed to carry, however, and leave to introduce the bill was secured by 21 votes to three.
Isle of Man Today. January 27.