Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Bill to reform Isle of Man abortion laws backed by politicians

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Media captionOn the Isle of Man, abortions are only permitted in a limited number of instances

Politicians on the Isle of Man have voted in favour of reopening the debate on reforming the island's controversial abortion laws.

A call to give Manx women the same rights as those in England, Scotland and Wales was brought before the House by Ramsey MHK Alex Allinson.

Under the island's current laws, abortions are only permitted following a rape or on mental health grounds.

Mr Allinson will now be granted leave to introduce a private member's bill.

The Ramsey GP and MHK has called for an updated abortion law which is "up-to-date and fit for the women of this island."

'Barbaric stance'

The Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform (Hear) campaign said any change in the law would be "regressive".

Earlier, a dozen people protested outside Tynwald with one campaigner labelling the proposal a "barbaric stance."

In most of the UK, laws permit women to access abortion services up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

An estimated 100 Manx women a year seek private abortions in Britain because current Manx laws prohibit terminations on the island.

The last census in 2011 reported the island's population at 84,497, with just over 18,000 women of reproductive age.

Under the Isle of Man's 1995 Termination of Pregnancy Act, abortions are only permitted when a pregnancy has resulted from rape, or because of a woman's mental health needs.

Anyone found guilty of aborting a child could in theory face two years in prison, although no-one has ever been prosecuted.

In the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, abortion is only allowed if a woman's life is at risk.

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