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Two deputies want to stop Abortion Law reforms

Two deputies want to stop Abortion Law reforms

Wednesday 07 July 2021

Two deputies want to stop Abortion Law reforms

Wednesday 07 July 2021

Abortion Law reforms will come grinding to a sudden halt, if a sursis motion by two States Deputies is successful.

After an emotional debate last June, politicians voted to double abortion time limits from 12 to 24 weeks and remove current time limits on abortions of abnormal foetuses.

States members also voted to decriminalise a woman ending or attempting to end her own pregnancy, and to remove a woman's requirement to consult a second medical practitioner before going ahead with an abortion. 

Legislation has since been drawn up to reform the 23-year-old Abortion Law and it is set to go before the States for sign-off next week.

However, Deputies Carl Meerveld and Liam McKenna want to halt that for a year while HSC conducts "further research into the implications of legal challenges".

"The changes detailed under Section 4 [of the Law] effectively allow for discretionary abortions up to 24 weeks of gestation," the pair wrote. "The UK is quite exceptional in having this limit, with most countries having a much shorter limit.


Pictured: Campaigners on both sides petitioned States members on their way in to the Royal Court chamber ahead of the June 2020 debate. 

Deputies Meerveld and McKenna continued: "Advances in medical care enable around 60% of foetuses born at 24 weeks to survive and develop as children, raising the moral issue of whether elective abortion (by personal choice, not on medical grounds) should be allowed at this late gestation. 

"Section 2 is of even more significant concern. "Abolishing the offence of a woman procuring her own miscarriage" means that it would no longer be a criminal offence for a woman to abort a perfectly healthy pregnancy at any time up to birth, even though causing the death of a child immediately after birth would be considered unlawful."

Pictured: At least one petition has been launched against the sursis, with plans to hand over the signatures and address deputies ahead of debate next Wednesday morning. 

These changes to the law have already been discussed significantly by the States in an emotional and lengthy debate last summer.

There was also significant public awareness of the debate, with crowds of protesters on both sides of the debate petitioning States members outside the Royal Court building.

Despite this, the two deputies said the issue had not been "properly considered" by the previous States. 

"We believe these issues are too significant for assent to be given based on the previous Assembly’s decisions. It needs to be brought back to this Assembly for proper consideration before being endorsed to proceed. 

Deputy Emilie McSwiggan / Yerby

Pictured: In her closing speech last June, HSC Committee Member Emilie McSwiggan said relaxing the 12-week limit was driven by a desire to find a "compassionate and fair" balance.

Leading on the proposed reforms last June, former deputy Emilie McSwiggan said the current Abortion Law was outdated and unfair. She viewed the reforms as a "compassionate" and long-awaited step in the right direction. The States agreed by 23 votes to 13. 

"This is not going to be an easy issue where we have settled conscience and convenient answers," she said at the time. "What we are trying to do is find a way through that is as compassionate as it can be, which is as fair as it can be, which balances and reflects the choices that people have to make and allows people to make those choices safely and within the context of a legal framework that is clear and modern and fair."

All of the proposals and their voting records from last June's debate can be accessed HERE under 'propositions and policy letters'. 

Pictured top: Deputies Carl Meerveld and Liam McKenna. 

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