Gibraltar says ‘yes’ to referendum to relax anti-abortion laws

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In a referendum initiated by the local government on Thursday, some 62% of voters voted in favor of a law allowing abortion in the event that a woman’s mental or physical health is in danger.

Residents of the small British territory of Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to ease abortion laws, one of the harshest in the world.

According to the results released Friday, June 25, some 62% of voters voted in favor of a law authorizing abortion in the event that a woman’s mental or physical health is in danger, especially in the event of rape or incest, or when the fetus has life-threatening physical impairments.

This referendum, which was held at the initiative of the local government, was initially scheduled for March 2020 but was postponed at the last minute because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A little more than 36% of the electorate voted “against” in this poll marked by a strong polarization of opinion, a rare fact within this usually very united enclave. The participation rate was 52.75%.

“A sensible subject”

Voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) was until now prohibited – unless it was a matter of life and death for the mother – and punishable by life in prison in this small British enclave of 32 000 inhabitants in the extreme south of Spain. As a result, women wishing to have an abortion had to travel to Spain or the UK.

From now on, a woman can have an abortion until the twelfth week if her mental or physical health is in danger, or even more if this danger is considered irreversible.

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who had campaigned for the ‘yes’, admitted abortion was ‘a sensitive subject’ but hailed the result as a necessary step.

This reform follows a decision of the British Supreme Court of June 2018 which found that the law of Northern Ireland, prohibiting abortion in almost all cases and therefore close to that of Gibraltar, was contrary to the European Convention. human rights.

“It is our duty to put an end to this violation,” Fabian Picardo wrote in Wednesday’s edition of the Gibraltar Chronicle.

With AFP

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