Guernsey abortion laws to be 'modernised' by States

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Pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters gathered outside Royal Court.
Image caption,
Pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters gathered for the the first physical meeting of the States since March

Abortion in Guernsey is set to be "modernised", following the States approval of amending the law.

The reforms to the 1997 law include extending gestational time limits and allowing one doctor to sign off an abortion.

The limit will double to 24 weeks and no limits will apply in case of "significant" foetal abnormalities.

The changes also decriminalise terminating a pregnancy outside of a medical setting.

The reforms will be drafted into law and return to the States for final approval.

What will change?

A public consultation by the Committee for Health and Social Care (HSC) found 66% of the more than 300 respondents supported the reforms.

The "modernisation" regulations will increase the time limit for an abortion from 12 to 24 weeks, bringing the Bailiwick in line with England, Wales and Scotland.

Abortions in cases of "significant foetal abnormality" will be allowed at any time, up from 24 weeks currently.

Women on the island can currently pay to have an abortion privately in the UK after 12 weeks.

Under the changes nurses and midwives will be allowed to perform abortions and women can have them at home, rather than exclusively at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

Another key change is the decriminalisation of attempting to or succeeding in having an abortion outside of a medical setting, currently punishable by prison.

Deputy Emilie McSwiggan, speaking on behalf of HSC, said the reforms would ensure the law was "clear and modern".

"What we have tried to do as a committee... is to try and find a way through that is as compassionate as it can be, as fair as it can be."

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