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Abortion rights victory on the Isle of Man

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CALM, Isle of Man, abortion bill, buffer zones,The first jurisdiction in the British Isles to decriminalise abortion.

The Isle of Man’s Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation (CALM) has delightedly announced that the Isle of Man’s House of Keys has voted to pass Dr Alex Allinson MHK’s Abortion Reform Bill 2018.

Once the three new amendments agreed upon are passed by the Legislative Council, it will be set before the Tynwald Court for signing, before being put forward for Royal Assent and becoming a Bill.

Sitting on 30 October the House of Keys confirmed that the Isle of Man’s politicians agreed that the current legislation was out of date, restrictive and discriminatory and that the Island’s women deserved better.

Key points in this Bill included:

Decriminalisation of abortion in the Isle of Man – the first jurisdiction in the British Isles to do this;

Provision of abortion on request, up to 14 weeks;

Legislating that there can be ‘social grounds’ for abortion, up to 24 weeks;

Legislating that abortions will only require the signature of one doctor or relevant professional (unlike elsewhere in the British Isles, where for abortions to be legal under the 1967 Abortion Act, there must be two signatures);

Independent, non-directional pre and post-abortion counselling to be available to anyone who requests it, at any point;

Legislation for access/buffer zones to be set up around any facility offering abortion services – again, a first for the British Isles; and

Allowance for conscientious objection, but objectors must register this with the DHSC and signpost anyone seeking an abortion to another healthcare professional.

“CALM is proud that the Isle of Man is leading the way, and will be the first jurisdiction in the British Isles to decriminalise abortion, meaning that those who choose to terminate a pregnancy for whatever reason will no longer be seen as criminals,” CALM said.

They will also be able to choose to access full reproductive healthcare at home, and no longer have to travel clinics in to England or elsewhere.

“The public consultation in 2017 showed that the vast majority of respondents wanted some provision for buffer or access zones, and our politicians listened,” CALM continued.

“Provisions in this Bill mean that people seeking abortions, or even those wanting to access counselling, will not be subjected to pressure from those who only want to frighten women or make them uncomfortable about any decision they’ve made, or which they might make.”

And CALM thanked all those who have worked tirelessly on the Abortion Reform Bill, particularly Dr Allinson MHK, seconder Clare Bettison MHK, Ralph Peake MHK for adding the provision of access zones to the original draft, the Attorney General, the legal drafters and all those MHKs and MLCs who have tabled amendments which have made the final Bill better for all those who believe that women in the Isle of Man should be able to access safe, legal and most of all local abortion services.

“We’d also like to thank everyone who has supported our campaign, all those who wrote to the prospective MHKs before the last election and since, and those who’ve told their own stories publically for the first time,” CALM said.

“We know that women who’ve had abortions, for whatever reason, have been stigmatised and ignored for too long, and we’re proud that our campaign has helped to make this a thing of the past.”

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