Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

New Isle of Man abortion law moves a step closer

A teenage girl holding a pregnancy test Image copyright Katarzyna Bialasiewicz
Image caption The legislation will make the laws even more relaxed than in England and Wales

Decriminalising abortion on the Isle of Man has moved a step closer after reforms were given unanimous backing by Tynwald members.

The Abortion Reform Bill will make it legal for women to have a termination on request within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Under current Manx law, abortions can only be conducted following a rape or due to mental health concerns.

Campaigners welcomed the move but opponents said it was "regressive".

Dr Alex Allinson MHK who was given leave to bring a private members' bill last year, said it takes abortion "out of the realm of the criminal justice system" and makes it "strictly a health care issue".

Abortion Reform Bill 2018

  • Abortion up to 14 weeks on request
  • Abortion up to 24 weeks in cases of foetal anomaly or serious social reasons
  • Abortion after 24 weeks in rare circumstances where the life of the mother is at risk or if the child would die shortly after birth or suffer a serious impairment
  • Clear guidance on conscientious objection
  • "Access zones" to be established around medical centres to prevent harassment of women accessing medical care
  • A ban on abortions purely on the basis of sex selection

He said: "Women will have access to a safer abortion and it removes the need to travel off-island or take abortion pills obtained online.

It also means counselling must be offered before and after every procedure whilst another clause allows medical professionals to not deliver treatment if it "clashes with their personal views".

The bill was given unanimous backing by Tynwald's upper house on Tuesday.

Currently, terminations are only allowed in very limited circumstances forcing around 100 women a year to seek and pay for their own private treatment in the UK.

In England and Wales, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks but not decriminalised entirely whilst in Northern Ireland, abortion is only allowed if a woman's life is at risk.

In a referendum in May, the Republic of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to overturn a ban on abortion and to give equal rights to life to both the mother and the unborn.

Image caption Dr Alex Allinson said he is "proud of Tynwald"

Dr Allinson said he hoped the "Isle of Man will lead the way for other countries to follow."

The Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation (CALM) said they were "delighted."

Spokeswoman Lynn Dawson said: "Women who've had abortions 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."

The Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform (HEAR) campaign described the proposed law change as "regressive".

The bill will be signed by Tynwald members on 20 November before being passed on for Royal Assent.

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