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GSD says Govt 'misrepresents' effect of abortion Bill, will vote against

David Parody

The GSD on Thursday said it would vote against the abortion Bill, accusing the Gibraltar Government of “misrepresenting” the effect of the proposed legislation.

The government says the legislation would permit abortions only under specific circumstances in line with a UK Supreme Court judgement on abortion in Northern Ireland.

In that case, a majority of the court found that the current law in Northern Ireland is disproportionate and incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, in that it prohibits abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, pregnancy as a result of rape and pregnancy as a result of incest.

But the GSD insists the law proposed by the Gibraltar Government goes further.
“This law does not propose to legislate carefully for defined exceptions,” said Keith Azopardi, the leader of the GSD.

“It is a carbon copy of the English law on abortion with a different time threshold. It is in effect a law not for exceptions but for abortion on demand.”

“The Government and Ministers should be honest that that is what they propose to vote for.”

“As we have said before the Government’s consultation paper and now this Bill has been a misrepresentation from start to finish where Mr Picardo has not had the political honesty to be clear with Gibraltar as to what this law does.”

The GSD said the government’s announcement on a referendum should the Bill pass Parliament presentation was not part of the proposed law and was just “eleventh hour manoeuvring” by the government “because they wish to be all things to all men”.

“A proposal to submit this flawed Bill to a referendum would merely sanction that a draft law and process that has been systematically misrepresented should be put to people,” Mr Azopardi said.

“People would be voting on a false premise because since last year the Government has been misrepresenting its proposal. We cannot go along with that.”

“There needs to be a clear and honest debate as to what this law does and as to what is required to be done for constitutional compliance. It is possible to draft a Bill to ensure strict constitutional compliance.”

“The Government has not tried at all to engage with those issues or the necessary balancing act which engages the life of the unborn child as well as the rights of the mother.”

Mr Azopardi said the GSD wanted “a clear and honest process”.

“This has not been one because of the way Government has acted,” he added.

“Important rights are at stake and strong views held on both sides. People deserve better than the way the Government are handling this issue.”

“We will therefore vote against this Bill.”