Two Birmingham Law School academics, Professor Fiona de Londras and Máiréad Enright, have welcomed the decision by HMG Gibraltar to reform abortion laws there. At present, abortion is criminalised and prohibited in almost all circumstances, and people seeking abortion must travel (usually to Spain or the UK) to access abortion care.
In their response to HMG Gibraltar’s Command Paper on reform of abortion law, de Londras and Enright propose a number of changes to align the proposed reforms more closely with a rights-based approach to the provision of abortion care. In particular, they recommend adjustment to the current proposed new law in order to:
(a) Make lawful abortion available without restriction as to reason up to 14 weeks
(b) Make lawful abortion available after 14 weeks where there is a risk to the health of the pregnant person and termination would reduce or mitigate that risk
(c) Make lawful abortion available without time limit where there is a risk to the life of the pregnant person or the foetus has been diagnosed with a condition that means it is likely to die before or shortly after birth
(d) Allow women to access abortion care in primary care settings in early pregnancy
(e) Impose a duty to refer on medical practitioners and healthcare professionals who hold a conscientious objection to the provision of abortion care
(f) Completely decriminalise abortion
On the Command Paper, de Londras said “The decision of HMG Gibraltar to reform and modernise abortion law is extremely welcome. However, it is vital that in doing so the Government learns from experience in other countries, reflects the best practice guidance from the WHO, and responds to the needs of women and pregnant people themselves in Gibraltar. Gibraltar has the opportunity to craft a new law that meets the needs of women and healthcare professionals. Our response is offered in the spirit of assisting the Government in achieving this”.