News World Isle of Man becomes first in British Isles to decriminalise abortion

Isle of Man becomes first in British Isles to decriminalise abortion

The Isle of Man has become the first of the British Isles to decriminalise abortion in a dramatic reform that received almost unanimous support in parliament.

The island – a self-governing territory that is under British sovereignty – previously only allowed abortion in limited circumstances, such as where the woman’s life was in danger, forcing many to go to Britain for private terminations.

The law that passed this week allows abortion on request during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and broadens conditions for permitting abortions between 15 and 24 weeks.

“It roots abortion services in healthcare rather than in the criminal justice system,” said member of parliament Alex Allinson, whose bill passed on Tuesday with almost unanimous backing.

“We’re also trying to remove some of the stigma around abortion. Women have always needed abortions, have always sought abortions. This is a medical procedure done for women who request it and we should treat it as such.”

The law makes the Isle of Man the first part of the British Isles to fully decriminalise abortion, which is only permitted in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life is at risk and has not been entirely decriminalised in Britain.

Allinson, a doctor, said a public consultation on the Isle of Man – home to nearly 85,000 people – had shown overwhelming support for reform.

“We need to get away from laws that were invented in the 1800s and move forward to address abortion and women’s healthcare purely within the health realm, rather than constantly see it as an illegal act,” he said.

The law also provides for the creation of buffer zones around the island’s hospital, and potentially doctors’ surgeries, to prevent harassment from protesters.

Campaigners said this was to avoid the problems seen in parts of Britain, where anti-abortion campaigners have intimidated women using abortion services.

The Isle of Man’s strict abortion law had meant just a handful of terminations were carried out on the island each year.

Allinson said about 100 women travelled to Britain annually for private abortions, costing up to 1,500 pounds ($1,940) on top of travel expenses, while others bought pills over the internet, without receiving counselling or follow-up treatment.

Neighbouring Ireland voted last May to liberalise its laws, meaning British-ruled Northern Ireland is now the only part of the British Isles with a restrictive abortion regime.

Nearly half of an estimated 56 million abortions performed each year are unsafe, leading to the deaths of at least 22,800 women, according to a 2018 global report by the Guttmacher Institute.

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Top Stories

188 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday

The Health Ministry announced 127 new COVID-19 cases on 22 October, out of 4,304 laboratory tests, taking confirmed infections to 3,154.   The break-down of new...

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ygia Polyclinic

Ygia polyclinic is informing the public that due to the fact that a small number of COVID-19 cases have been found among the staff...

President Anastasiades will not resign

President Nicos Anastasiades will not betray the decision of the big majority of the citizens and will complete his term, as the Constitution and...

Citizens request the resignations of those involved in illegal passports’ case

In an announcement, organized groups of people are requesting the immediate resignation of politicians directly or indirectly involved in the issuing of Cypriot passports...

New measures announced by Health Minister due to increase in number of COVID-19 cases

Face masks must be worn outside at all times, the Cabinet decided on Thursday. Moreover, stricter measures apply in all districts and partial lockdown...


Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...


No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...