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GSD ‘fails to answer key abortion questions’, Govt says

The Gibraltar Government has accused the GSD of failing to answer key questions surrounding its stance on abortion.

The two have been locked in a process of exchanging statements on the subject, with each accusing the other of misrepresenting core positions in this delicate, sensitive debate.

In the latest salvo the Government said it notes that the GSD has not responded to the direct question posed to them as to how they would change the draft Bill on abortion in the Command Paper.

The Government said it has asked the GSD a direct question: "How would you propose to amend the draft Bill in the abortion Command Paper to safely limit its application to cases of rape or incest?"

But the GSD has not responded, the Government said.

The Government has asked the GSD a further direct question: "Given that, in the recent past, the GSD has approved, supported and funded abortions in cases of potentially severe disabilities on birth, why does the GSD believe we should not legislate to legalise what is already happening in this respect?"

“The GSD has not responded,” the Government said in a statement.

In the circumstances, the Government said it would appear that the GSD has no answers to these serious questions.

“They say that they would limit abortions to cases of rape or incest, but when asked how they would do that safely, they do not answer.”

The Government has proposed a number of questions for the GSD which, it says, apply equally to incest as they do to rape.

These include: “Where would the GSD lay the legal burden of proof in a law requiring an allegation of rape as a gateway for a woman to access an abortion?”

“Would prima facie evidence of rape be enough for an abortion to be accessed on this basis?”

“What would happen in a case of an alleged rape which leads to an abortion but where the alleged rapist is acquitted at the end of a trial?”

“How do they propose to do this whilst also providing for a woman’s physical and mental health under these extreme circumstances?”

The Government insisted that these are just a few of the very serious, complex questions that arise from the GSD’s proposals, but which the GSD have no answers to.

“It would appear they have given no serious thought at all to any of these issues,” it added.

“The GSD’s cynical pandering to both sides of the debate does a disservice to all, and in particular, the vulnerable women that they pretend to want to protect.”

“Without offering any solutions to the complex legal questions that their proposals generate, the GSD are simultaneously pro-abortion and anti-choice, but they are not about protecting vulnerable women.”

“They say that they would not allow abortion in cases of potentially severe disabilities, but they don't explain how.”

“If that if that is their position, they must explain why they as a party and their current leader as Minister for Health approved, supported and funded abortions in exactly those circumstances when they were last in Government.”

“Moreover, these abortions were very likely to have been carried out after the 14 week time limit with the approval, support and funding of Mr Azopardi and the GSD.”

The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said: “The GSD is failing to explain the statements they have made on this sensitive subject.”

“They talk of legal limitations they cannot deliver. They can’t even deliver a draft of these limitations.”

“They talk of limitations which are contrary to their own recent actions even in a matter as seminal as abortion.”

“Their handling of this matter is exposing a level of hypocrisy the public will not easily forgive or forget.”

“In fact, Mr Azopardi’s attempt to become the pro-abortion poster boy of the pro-life movement has exploded in his own face.”

“Once again, I call on the GSD to publish the proposed amendments to the draft Bill on abortion so the whole community can consider them.”

“They should not try to hide behind a Select Committee. If they do not publish any proposed amendments now they will be seen to have spouted legal nonsense in an attempt to use abortion and people's emotions on this sensitive subject as an election tool.”

“That would be taking political opportunism to a new level of cynicism unknown in our political history as a people. I hope that I am proved wrong and that the GSD accept my hand of proposed political cooperation and publish their suggested limitations to our draft proposed law.”

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