Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

'Medieval' abortion law needs updating, say Isle of Man campaigners

A teenage girl holding a pregnancy test Image copyright Katarzyna Bialasiewicz
Image caption Abortion law in the Isle of Man states that a termination can only be carried out in the event of a criminal offence or on mental health grounds

Campaigners are calling for the Isle of Man's "medieval abortion law" to be brought in line with England, Scotland and Wales.

Although it is not currently illegal, the group said it is "almost impossible" for women to have a termination on the island.

A spokeswoman for the Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation (CALM) said the law needs to be brought up to date.

A termination must meet certain criteria, said the Manx government.

Currently, fewer than 10 terminations are carried out on island each year.

For hundreds of women, that means a trip to the UK to pay for their own procedure as it is not available to Manx women on the NHS.

'Bigger issue'

A woman who wanted to remain anonymous said she became pregnant in an abusive relationship.

"I told my GP that I was pregnant and I didn't want to be and all he said was: 'Let me know if you change your mind.'

"After that, it was literally me and the Yellow Pages."

Image copyright Manx scenes
Image caption Currently most Manx women seeking an abortion are forced to travel to the UK at their own expense

She added: "There is no other option than to get on a boat or plane - we're not in the 1950s - it's medieval."

A second woman said she felt "incredibly isolated".

"I got myself into debt and I was instilled with so much fear dodging people I knew at the airport. I don't remember parts of it because it was so traumatic.

"Flying back from the UK was the worst part. I was in so much pain because of the altitude. It was all unnecessary and I should have been at home".

CALM's Suzy Holland said: "We want equality for Manx women.

"We don't want abortion on demand or as a contraceptive. It is a much bigger issue and the law needs to be brought up to date".

The Termination of Pregnancy Act 1995 is still the law governing abortions in the Isle of Man.

It allows for a termination on a number of grounds such as a pregnancy arising from a criminal offence such as rape, and on certain mental health grounds.

But campaigners believe the "burden of proof to meet these criteria is such that it can be almost impossible for a woman to have her pregnancy terminated".

The act was brought in to update an existing law - which was largely based on the 1872 Criminal Code - which made the act of abortion illegal.

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