The Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform (HEAR) campaign is imploring Members of the House of Keys to reject the controversial and extreme abortion Bill of Dr. Alex Allinson MHK, or at least to send it to a Select Committee so that it might be properly analysed for Clause Stage amendment.
Since the ‘Consultation’ in September last year, the Bill has barely changed. The only real improvements were in its language towards foetal impairments, and its inclusion of a clause mandating counselling and support for women who have an unborn child who was been diagnosed with an impairing condition.
Serious problems however, have been retained within the Bill. These include that it:
- Formally introduces abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 14 weeks. ‘For any reason’ would include sex-selective abortion, which would be effectively legalised and enabled up to 14 weeks.
- Informally allows for abortion on demand as happens across, up to 24 weeks through widely interpretable ‘health’ and ‘social’ grounds. This would informally enable sex-selective abortion up to the third trimester.
- Worsens disability discrimination in the law, introducing abortion for disability up to birth, and enabling the informally eugenic ‘screening out’ of babies with impairments.
- Enables barbaric late term abortion practices to be more frequently practicable, such as causing the baby a fatal heart-attack through ‘feticide’.
- Takes away protections for unborn babies to be born alive and cared for after late terminations.
- Removes criminal penalties for women who self-abort, taking away the ability of the courts to flexibly exercise justice as well as mercy in different circumstances.
- Undermines conscience protections.
- Solidifies the undermining of parental rights through ‘Gillick Competency’.
As last year, HEAR has learnt much from equality campaigns across such as women’s rights coalition Stop Gendercide and Down’s syndrome advocates Don’t Screen Us Out, both of whom have taken an interest in the Manx abortion debate from different equality-based angles, even whilst not being consistent ‘pro-life’ campaigns. These have all pointed to the dangerously discriminatory nature of the Bill in its contents and in what it would enable, adding to the inhumane inequality that abortion always involves against unborn children.
The many controversial elements of the Bill mandate that it should go to a Select Committee to be properly and objectively analysed by Tynwald before returning for Keys debate.
The claim that the ‘consultation’ that Dr. Allinson held himself over the last few months are sufficient to function as an alternative is naive at best and dishonest at worst. It suggests the consultation was meant as a tactic to avoid Committee when it came to Tynwald. The insufficiency of Dr. Allinson’s consultation is because:
- It only framed questions that took for granted that the Bill would go ahead with all its controversial elements included (there was, for example, no question about the wisdom of abortion on demand, or decriminalising abortion),
- It took place during the late Summer when fewer people were likely to respond.
- Dr. Allinson is not an objective adjudicator of the wisdom of his own work, which explains why it barely changed, and why very few suggestions by critics of the Bill were adopted.
- Additionally, the distrust of Dr. Allinson by many on Island who disagree with his Bill led many to boycott it, which contributed to its failure as a comprehensive review of public opinion.
All this tells that a truly objective analysis of the Bill can only occur by a fairly-comprised Select Committee that will be able to look at the Bill in a balanced and open way, and invite wider expert testimony than was enabled by Dr. Allinson’s own Consultation. The Committee would also be able to hold hearings, and question contributors from both sides of the debate rather than just receive submissions based on one-sided questioning.
The serious demerits of such extreme and permissive potential legislation as the Allinson Abortion Bill necessitate deeper analysis and consideration so as to enable Tynwald debate to be as fulsome and as critical as possible.
HEAR spokesperson Sue Richardson, said:
“We hope the Keys reject the Allinson Abortion Bill. It demonstrably contains inhumane and extreme proposals that would be deeply regressive, and would move the Island backwards. We were wise enough to learn the lessons from the system that operates across when Tynwald looked at and debated this subject in the 90s. It would be shameful to forget those lessons now.
The Isle of Man neither needs, nor wants, abortion on demand up to 24 weeks, which make no mistake, is precisely what we would have if we introduced this bad Bill into our law. If passed in its current form, it would replicate the worst elements of British practice (such as disability discrimination and enabled sex-selection), and not only repeal the humane provisions in our current law (e.g. protecting babies born alive, and mandating no killing of unborn children after 24 weeks), but introduce worse provisions that British law has ever contained.
We have a law that is not perfect, but is far better than the framework in Britain, and it would be far better to amend that prudently than scrap it entirely and replace it with this terrible Bill.
Failing rejection, it is truly important that the Bill go to a Tynwald Committee. Very sadly, little in the final draft of the new Abortion Bill has improved since Dr. Allinson first put it to public view. The fact that so little has changed despite many organisations showing the Bill’s shortcomings, and the one-sided and biased nature of the consultation itself, really shows that it needs a more objective and close study.
Let us ensure greater support for women and couples who experience unplanned pregnancy and their babies, and in doing so recognise in our society and law that both lives matter, and that every life counts, within the womb and without. That way, we can express real solidarity with every member of our society, and be even more we have always essentially been: a society in which care and compassion is paramount”.