More than two days spent on debating abortion amendments

The States has begun general debate on proposals to "modernise Guernsey's abortion law, after more than two days spent on amendments.

Deputies had to carry over the debate to this week, after they ran out of time last week.

Overall, 11 amendments were rejected by the States, including several proposals to reduce the proposed 24-week gestational time limit to between 16 and 22 weeks.

Physical States meeting starts with abortion debate

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online

Pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters outside Royal Court

Guernsey's States of Deliberation has resumed physically meetings for the first time since they were moved to being held remotely in March to comply with coronavirus lockdown.

Deputies are currently debating reforms to Guernsey's abortion law, which would double the gestational time limit to 24 weeks for most abortions and at any point in cases of diagnosed foetal abnormalities.

The changes would also remove the need for two doctors to approve the procedure and allow women to have early term abortions at home.

Pro-choice and anti-abortion campaigners gathered outside the Royal Court ahead of the start of the meeting.

Pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters outside Royal Court

Abortion law changes 'would affect disabled population'

BBC Radio Guernsey

A former Paralympic athlete believes plans in Guernsey to modernise the island's abortion law would affect people like her.

The States is due to debate the Committee for Health and Social Care's (HSC) proposals to update Guernsey's 1997 abortion law.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who is also a patron of the Guernsey Disability Alliance, said while modernising the law was important, the rights of disabled people also must be protected

She said that "many jurisdictions" allowed the termination of of unborn children with non-fatal disabilities and, "people like me ... would fit into that category".

She said: "There are many diverse opinions out there and the voice of disabled people needs to be part of that discussion."

HSC member Deputy Rhian Tooley, said striking a balance between a woman's right to choose and protecting those with disabilities was challenging.

HSC said the proposals looked to improve clarity in the existing law, ensuring it remained evidence-based and demonstrated good medical practice. It also aimed to "protect and promote" the health and safety of women.

Watch: Women denied abortions because of pandemic

In some European countries, hospitals have stopped performing abortions. In others, where abortion is severely restricted, women have been unable to travel to get treatment elsewhere.

Our colleague Jean Mackenzie has been speaking to women who have resorted to backstreet abortions, and others left with no choice but to continue with unwanted pregnancies.

You may find her report upsetting.

Abortion debate 'covered up with medical speech'

A Guernsey deputy has argued the language around the debate to reform abortion is "covering up" the experiences of women "with medical speech".

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, who has proposed three of the 10 amendments to proposals to update the 1997 law is seeking to set the limit for having a termination at 16 weeks.

This amendment is currently being debated in the States.

Currently the law only allows women to have an abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks, but the proposed reforms would set this at 24 weeks.

A second amendment by Mrs Dudley-Owen, which is yet to be debated, would add a provision to the reforms amending the law to say women will be "offered appropriate counselling before and after an abortion".

While a third would set the limit at 20 weeks, instead of 24.

We cover it up often with medical speech and it becomes a dry medical procedure that really hides the issues and ethical issues that I am talking about today."

Deputy Andrea Dudley-OwenStates of Guernsey