On Wednesday, about 200 pro-abortion and pro-life activists gathered outside as the decision to amend the 1997 abortion law was handed down in a final vote of 27 to 11. Currently, abortion is restricted to the first three months (12 weeks) of pregnancy, but the updated law will allow abortions up until six months (24 weeks) of pregnancy when children are capable of surviving outside the womb. Abortion for preborn children diagnosed with a health condition or disability will be allowed until birth.
In addition to extending the time limit on abortion, the new law will allow just one doctor to approve the abortion instead of two as was previously required, and will also allow DIY abortions at home with expanded use of the abortion pill. Nurses and midwives will be able to dispense the abortion pill, which has been found to be four times more dangerous than a first-trimester surgical abortion.
In addition, medical practitioners that object to committing or taking part in abortions will be forced to refer women to a doctor who will participate, and if an abortion is deemed necessary to “save the life or prevent serious injury to the physical or mental health of a woman,” pro-life doctors will be forced to commit the abortion against their will. Abortion, however, is never medically necessary to save the life or health of the mother. Preterm delivery, treatment for an ectopic pregnancy, and emergency C-sections are not abortions.
Deputy Sue Aldwell, who has a son with learning disabilities, spoke out against the abortion law changes in an open letter. She pointed to the anti-discrimination legislation approved in Guernsey in July 2020, just weeks after the amendment to the abortion law was initially approved.
“As the mother of a disabled son with severe learning disabilities whom I adore and who brings me such joy, I find it difficult to comprehend the contrast in the proposed law protecting those with severe disabilities before and after birth,” she wrote.
She added, “The decision on the Abortion Law legalises discrimination against unborn children with disabilities, allowing abortions beyond the elective period of 24 weeks purely because of their disability. While the New Discrimination Law specifically outlaws discrimination against children with disabilities from the day of their birth.”
Though science reveals that life begins at fertilization, Deputy Tina Burty claimed that the law needed to be “modernized,” and was “based on the latest scientific evidence and comes with the overwhelming backing of the medical profession.”
The new law must be sent to the Privy Council for Royal Assent before it can be officially enacted.
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