Gibraltar Votes to Ease Abortion Restrictions

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Residents of Gibraltar voted by a large margin Thursday to ease one of many strictest abortion legal guidelines in Europe following an emotional marketing campaign, lifting a near-ban on the process and aligning the tiny British territory extra intently with British laws.

In a referendum, about 62 p.c of voters accepted modifications within the regulation that can permit abortions throughout the first 12 weeks of being pregnant if a lady’s psychological or bodily well being is taken into account by a physician to be in danger, or later in circumstances of extreme fetal abnormality.

Until now, the regulation in Gibraltar had allowed abortion solely to save a mom’s life. The regulation had set a possible prison penalty of life imprisonment, although no such sentence had been imposed in current historical past.

In distinction, British regulation permits abortion within the first 24 weeks of being pregnant.

Parliament set the stage for Thursday’s vote in 2019, when it adopted language meant to ease abortion restrictions that it handed alongside to voters for approval. A referendum was initially deliberate for March 2020 however had been delay by the coronavirus pandemic till Thursday.

Gibraltar, a territory of 34,000 individuals on the tip of southern Spain, has maintained some important authorized distinctions from Britain. But the Gibraltar Parliament set the modifications in movement after Britain’s Supreme Court warned in 2018 that Northern Ireland’s abortion ban was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Keith Azopardi, an opposition politician who was in opposition to easing the abortion restrictions, described the referendum marketing campaign as “emotional and divisive.” The majority of Gibraltar’s residents are Catholic, and the bishop of Gibraltar had been amongst those that opposed an easing of the abortion regulation.

Turnout amongst Gibraltar’s 23,000 eligible voters was 53 p.c.

Fabian Picardo, the chief of the federal government of Gibraltar, had supported the abortion modifications. After casting his personal poll on Thursday, he retweeted a message from the London-based Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which stated that “restrictive abortion laws endanger women’s lives by forcing them to either travel out of country, or access unsafe and illegal care.”

Early Friday morning, Mr. Picardo tweeted out a “We did it!” message and wrote that the federal government will “work to introduce the new services we will require to ensure counseling and safe and legal abortions.”

The modifications will take impact in 28 days. Until now, the regulation in Gibraltar had meant that ladies looking for an abortion usually traveled elsewhere, typically to Britain and generally throughout the land border to neighboring Spain, the place abortion was legalized in sure circumstances greater than 30 years in the past.

Britain secured management of Gibraltar within the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, although Spain has lengthy contested British sovereignty. In December, negotiators struck a last-minute deal to keep away from the potential of vacationers and items being stranded at Gibraltar’s land border with Spain as Britain accomplished its exit from the European Union.

While British voters endorsed leaving the E.U. in a referendum in 2016, an amazing majority of voters in Gibraltar voted in opposition to the choice, often known as Brexit.

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