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Gibraltar votes to ease draconian abortion laws by 62 per cent in referendum

·2-min read
Gibraltarian women from both sides of the campaign outside a polling station on Thursday (REUTERS)
Gibraltarian women from both sides of the campaign outside a polling station on Thursday (REUTERS)

Gibraltar has voted in a historic referendum to relax one of Europe’s strictest abortion laws, backing terminations up to 12 weeks.

Residents in the 30,000-strong British territory voted on Thursday by 62 per cent in favour of reforming the current law, under which abortion is illegal except in cases where a mother’s life is in danger.

Up to four in five Gibraltarians are Catholic and the Bishop of Gibraltar has spoken out against the proposed changes.

The victory for the ‘Yes’ campaign was declared shortly after midnight.

Isobel Allul, of the official Gibraltar for Yes! campaign, said: “Today, Gibraltar voted yes — yes for human rights, yes for women and girls, yes for trusting doctors and healthcare professionals, yes for choice, yes for compassion and empathy, yes for healthcare and care, yes for reproductive rights, yes for female bodily autonomy and yes for abortion that is at home, safe and legal.”

The campaign was backed by the leaders of the two parties of Gibraltar’s coalition government — the Socialist Labour Party and the Liberal Party — and the Together Gibraltar Party.

The leader of the main opposition, the Gibraltar Social Democrats Party, rallied behind the ‘No’ vote.

Just over half of the electorate voted, of whom which 52.2 per cent were women and 52 per cent were over the age of 50. Under-30s made up just 17 per cent of the vote, the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) reported. Of the 12,313 who voted, 7783 voted yes and 4520 voted no.

The referendum was originally set to go ahead in March 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic.

In a speech after the result, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo pledged to “put in place mechanisms for counselling and support of women to ensure that any woman who calls at the door of the Gibraltar Health Authority, believing that she needs an abortion, will have the support that she needs.”

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