At today’s sitting of Tynwald (Tuesday 15 January) President Steve Rodan MLC announced that the Abortion Reform Bill 2018 has received Royal Assent and will now be signed by the Lieutenant Governor Sir Richard Gozney KMG CVO on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Lord of Mann.
We now have the Abortion Reform ACT.
This is probably the most important pieces of social legislation to be approved by this parliament. Not only does the Abortion Reform Act legalise abortion in the Isle of Man, it also decriminalises it – the first jurisdiction in the British Isles to do so. It also legislates for buffer zones around any place offering abortion services – the first jurisdiction to do so.
At last, abortion care is part of reproductive healthcare on the Island.
At last, choice really does have a voice.
Less than three years since Dr Allinson was given leave to introduce his bill, just under two years since its first reading in the House of Keys, we now have an Abortion Reform Act which this Island should be proud of. We are.
BUT, the services legislated for in the Act now need to be enacted by the Department of Health & Social Care. Without that, the Abortion Reform Act is just empty words.
CALM understands much of the work to do this, including providing more independent, non-directive pre- and post-abortion counsellors, is already being being progressed, but the DHSC is not yet in a position to roll out the full range of services we’ve been promised.
CALM will be keeping a close eye on this: we won’t allow this government to fall at the last hurdle.
This is what Clare Bettison MHK said in the House of Keys a year ago:
“I stand here for those Tynwald Members who fought valiantly for change in the past, for the many campaigners who have dedicated their time and energy to abortion reform, for the women who have been failed, who have been forced to leave their country, our Island, in shame, to access a healthcare service, for the women who have risked criminalisation to make decisions about their bodies, and for the women who may need to access these services in the future.
I stand for choice, and I stand here for our future”.
We’d like to echo Ms Bettison’s words, and thank everyone who has supported our campaign and particularly Dr Alex Allinson MHK for driving this legislation through Tynwald, and every MHK and MLC who’s supported and refined it.
It’s less than three years since CALM held its first meeting and although at times it’s felt like a long, hard slog, in that time we’ve had one general election, one public consultation, one Legislative Council election, numerous sittings of the House of Keys and LegCo, drafts and redrafts and now, finally, we have a workable law which will provide the best abortion service in the British Isles.