Bring Humanity and Equality into Abortion Reform on the Isle of Man

Bring Humanity and Equality into Abortion Reform on the Isle of Man


Bring Humanity and Equality into Abortion Reform on the Isle of Man

6,378 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.

Bring Humanity and Equality into Abortion Reform on the Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is a unique place, with a unique history. It has the oldest continuously operating Parliament in the world, Tynwald, and a constitution and legal system that is entirely distinct from the United Kingdom.

One special and important area of the Isle of Man’s legal and political tradition, is its abortion law. When members of Tynwald framed the Termination of Pregnancy (Medical Defences) Act in 1995, they learnt from the mistakes of their British counterparts, and created a law with much greater rigour in its safeguards, and compassion in its treatment of the unborn child.

The Act allows abortion in cases where two doctors in good faith discern that this is necessary to prevent a grave risk to the mother’s life, physical health, or mental health. Yet to prevent the abuse of the last provision as is common in Britain, it requires the second doctor to be a psychiatric consultant. It also allows abortion after sexual assault, but also to prevent abuse of this provision it requires the formal provision of evidence.

Most importantly, for all abortions after 24 weeks, it is the legal duty of the hospital surgeon performing the abortion to do so “in such manner as is best calculated to preserve the life of the child” and “to take such other actions as is reasonable in all the circumstances to preserve the life of the child”. If a baby is born alive during any abortion then “the hospital surgeon shall be under a duty to take all reasonable steps to preserve the life of the child”.

The law also, however, has serious flaws. It allows abortion for foetal disability, allowing the targeting of babies in the womb simply because they are not fully abled. This institutionalises an ugly form of discrimination that our society has surely outgrown. It also possesses a conscience clause the language of which could well be challenged and reinterpreted to deny the rights of midwives and nurses to object to being involved with abortion, as it has in Britain.

Manx law therefore has positive aspects that should be retained, and negative aspects that should be reformed in keeping with the relatively compassionate nature of the island’s treatment of this subject so far. Unfortunately, in the last few months, a lobby has been set up that is trying to change the abortion laws of the Isle of Man in the wrong direction. They would like to see Manx law stripped of its special protections, and take the Isle of Man back to the outdated and unjust 1960s law that still pertains across.

In response to this, and to support a more equal and humane reform of the Manx abortion law, the Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform (HEAR) campaign has been set up, to stand for the humanity, dignity, and rights, of both pregnant mothers and their unborn children. It proposes to Tynwald that they bolster support for women in unplanned pregnancy, repeal abortion for disability whilst providing the best prenatal care for parents who are given such a diagnosis for their baby, tighten conscience protections and strengthen mental health safeguards. These are the real caring alternatives to the callous and regressive proposals of the abortion lobby.

This petition is set up to support that cause, and to show the level of principled feeling that exists for a progressive reform of Manx abortion law. Please sign this in support of our campaign, and help us in championing the dignity and equal rights of women and children, before as well as after birth.

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Extend care for mothers and unborn children in Manx abortion law

For the attention of Mrs Kate Beecroft MHK, Minister for the Department of Health and Social Care on the Isle of Man

Dear Mrs. Beecroft,

For over a century, the Isle of Man has led the way in being a progressive and humane part of the British isles. The Isle of Man first gave women the vote almost forty years before the UK, and the Isle of Man’s cultural commitment to human dignity can be seen in the Equality Bills that have recently gone through Tynwald.

In keeping with this history, the Isle of Man should lead the way in affirming the equal dignity of all human beings – female and male, unborn and born, and regardless of ability. A key area in which we can do so now, is in the area of abortion.

Currently, Manx abortion law is one of the most relatively enlightened and rational examples of such legislation in Europe, and indeed in the world. Uniquely, it mandates care for babies born alive, and that abortions after viability be carried out in such a way that the baby will live. It requires an evidence basis for abortions after sexual crime, and that a psychiatric consultant be the independent doctor in certifying those on the grounds of mental health. Almost as much as an abortion law can, it combines rigour with a degree of care and compassion.

Despite its positive elements however, the law also has its deficiencies. As in Britain, it allows abortion for disability, an example of unjust discrimination and informal eugenics. This distracts and detracts from the right response: providing pre- and post-natal care that removes the perceived necessity to end the life of baby with disability. We should abolish this relic of a less caring era, and provide the help to parents that they need to take care of their child.

Further needed reforms lie in the updating of conscience protections for medical professionals, and the improvement of pregnancy support and provision of psychiatric consultancy on the Island.

Yet contrary to these progressive and humanising proposals, some prefer Tynwald simply to substantially adopt the 1967 British abortion law. This would mean moving not forward into the 21st century, but backwards to the 1960s, a time when attitudes were much less governed by a conviction of basic human equality or a corresponding concern for the welfare of all the most vulnerable. Rather than remove discrimination against unborn children with disabilities, they would cement it. Rather than improve the safeguards in the law, they would remove them.

Contrary to this, and in keeping with the Island’s proud history, we urge you to advocate and ensure that Manx abortion laws are reformed in a way that reflects the principles of humanity and equality that should always inform and animate our politics. This can be achieved by, amongst other things:

1. Bolstering support for women in unplanned pregnancy;
2. Repealing discriminatory abortion for disability, whilst also providing the best prenatal care for parents who are given such a diagnosis for their baby;
3. Tightening conscience protections for medical professionals;
4. Strengthening mental health safeguards and provision of psychiatric care.

Please ensure that Tynwald remains a ‘cutting edge’ Parliament, by introducing just and humane abortion reform that increases the right-to-life protections for unborn children, and compassionate support for their parents.

[Your Name]

Bring Humanity and Equality into Abortion Reform on the Isle of Man

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6,378 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.