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Campaigns clash ahead of referendum

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

The Gibraltar for Yes campaigners have called on the Gibraltar Government and the Referendum Administrator to “take a stand on the extreme inaccuracies propagated” by the Save Babies, Vote No campaigners.

But in their reply, a spokesman for the Save Babies, Vote No campaign said this was “not surprising,” adding that this is a “tactic” used to “undermine one’s opponents.”

In a statement, the Campaign for Yes group said: “With less than a week left for the Abortion referendum the ‘vote yes’ campaign calls on the Government of Gibraltar and the Referendum Administrator to take a stand on the extreme inaccuracies propagated by the No campaign especially with regard to issues such as ‘abortion on demand up to nine months.’”

Gibraltar for Yes said that this sort of “misinformation and medical inaccuracies are threatening to distort an already highly emotive campaign by playing on people's fears and insecurities about the Act.”

“The Crimes Amendment Act that is being put to referendum has already passed in parliament and the rhetoric that is being used by the No campaign is harmful and damages the integrity of both our healthcare professionals and the Gibraltar Parliament,” the Gibraltar for Yes statement said.

“Although the Yes campaign appreciates that the Government and the Gibraltar health authority need to maintain a certain detachment from the debate in order not to influence the outcome of this campaign it should not tolerate this level of misinformation being relayed to the public as if it were medical truths.”

“It is essential for accurate evidence-based medical knowledge to be put into the public domain for the people to make a truly informed decision about this fundamental healthcare and humanitarian right.”

But in its response, Save Babies, Vote No campaigners said it is disappointing to see the statement from Gibraltar for Yes, but added that it is “not surprising.”

“It's a tactic in campaigns to seek to undermine one's opponents,” spokesman James Brenig said.

“We are looking forward to the GBC debate next Wednesday where all the facts can be aired.”

“The fact is that the No campaign has exposed very effectively that the proposed law (which is copied almost word for word from the UK 1967 Abortion Act) will in practice allow for abortion throughout the full nine months of pregnancy.”

“We may wish and hope for something different but that is what has happened and the record number of abortions recorded in England and Wales during 2020 bear this out. 210,860 unborn babies' lives ended by abortion.”

“There is something in the GFY statement that we do agree with.”

“We agree that evidence based medical information should be put into the public domain.”

“Information about what the procedure of abortion involves, information about the incredible development of the baby in the womb, information about the baby's capacity to feel pain in late term abortion and information about the negative impact of abortion on many women.”

“If that information was out there, it would be clear to everyone that a No vote is the best option next week.”

"For now, let's continue over these last few days to put forward our own position respectfully and positively rather than tearing down our opponents.”

"And let's keep Gibraltar's heart beating and vote No on Thursday.”

Referendum Administrator, Paul Martinez, said he was aware of the statement from Gibraltar for Yes but has not received any complaints from the campaign group.

In a referendum, Mr Martinez’ duties are to ensure the procedural and administrative provisions of the legislation is met.

“Section 69 of the Referendum Act says that a person shall not distribute during a referendum period anything that is deceptive or misleading,” he added.

“A person who contravenes this is guilty of an offence.”

“If [campaigners] feel that this information is deceptive or misleading, this should be reported to the police.”

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