Douglas, Isle of Man, Jan 17, 2017 / 08:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A member of the Isle of Man's legislature and a pro-choice campaign group are aiming to reform the island's abortion laws, but are receiving push-back from a local right-to-life group.
“Our current law has at least done a good job of maintaining general right-to-life protections for unborn children, and safeguarding Manx women from the worst effects of the system of abortion-on-demand in the UK,” Hannah Grove, spokesperson of Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform, said Jan. 15.
“The Island has an abortion rate that is at least a third of England and Wales, and that is because of the wise strictures in our native 1995 legislation. We are way ahead of the UK, and adopting anything like their outdated and failed 1967 Act would be a regressive and hopeless folly.”
Though abortion is not illegal on the Isle of Man, a crown dependency located between England and Northern Ireland, its current law — the Termination of Pregnancy Act 1995 — allows for abortions only if the pregnancy was a result of rape or on grounds of harm to the mother or fetal disability. Manx women seeking abortions currently travel to the United Kingdom for a surgical abortion, or illegally purchase medication online to induce abortion early on in pregnancy.
Alex Allinson, a member of the House of Keys, the lower branch of the Manx parliament, is expected to introduce a bill to expand abortion access on the island later this month. Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform considers the proposal a regression, saying it “ignores the humanity of the unborn child,” and warning it would “open the system up to abuses” and lead to a culture of “abortion on demand,” citing the abortion of 550 children daily in England and Wales.
HEAR have defined themselves as “the progressive campaign for abortion reform to be carried out on the Isle of Man in line with a recognition of the equal humanity and dignity of all members of the human family.” The group wants to improve pregnancy support, reform prenatal care, improve mental health care, and increase transparency about abortion on the island.
HEAR also wishes to abolish disability discrimination, saying that “such an informally eugenic approach to prenatal disability is completely out of place in the 21st century, and our common commitment to human equality.” Its final aim is to secure conscience protections for medical professionals on the island. Grove commented, “Let Tynwald reject the inhumane permissive proposals of the abortion lobby, and instead embrace reforms that truly respect the dignity and equality of every member of the Manx and human family.”
Allinson's proposal is backed by the Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation. They hope to bring Manx law into line with British law, noting that women from the UK can have abortions funded by the National Health Service, while Manx women must pay for their abortion. In 2015, 105 Manx women traveled to England for abortion. HEAR has called on the House of Keys “to reject any proposal that would deny the human rights and dignity of unborn children, an unjust and false solution to the issues of unplanned pregnancy.”