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Lockdown pushed women online for abortions, No More Shame says

The pro-choice group No More Shame said it is becoming increasingly clear more pregnant people in Gibraltar are going online in search of abortion pills as a first port of call.

The group made the statement as it marked its first anniversary.

In a statement, Mo More Shame urged the Gibraltar Government to hold the abortion referendum as soon as it is deemed safe. The referendum was postponed in March due to the Covid-19 public health emergency.

No More Shame said that if Gibraltar had the appropriate facilities and healthcare available in Gibraltar, “pregnant people would have not needed to turn to the prospect of purchasing pills online” from medical doctors at Women on Web.

The charity said its sources at Women on Web have informed them that as from January 2020 until the end of June 2020, 29 requests for abortions pills were sent from Gibraltar, many of these during the lockdown period.

In half a year, more requests were sent than in the whole of 2019 where the figures stand at 20, No More Shame said in a statement, adding that this represents an increase of 190% in comparison to last year.

“Furthermore the nearest clinic in Algeciras has also confirmed that from January of this year up until the end of June they have recorded 15 Gibraltar residents accessing their services, meanwhile the figures for the entirety of 2019 stand at 21,” the group said, adding that this represented an increase of 43%.

No More Shame said that these figures fall short of the whole picture as it does not include any data from other clinics in Malaga or Sevilla, which offer more specialised services, or those procedures carried out in the United Kingdom.

No More Shame and its members have been at the forefront of the campaign for a change in abortion legislation over the past two years, and were instrumental in leading the Gibraltar for Yes referendum campaign.

“ No More Shame acknowledges that whilst the last few months have indeed been difficult for everyone, we would like to highlight the extra difficulties people who have found themselves unexpectedly pregnant, have faced in not being able to access safe and legal reproductive healthcare at home in Gibraltar,” the group said.

It added that the best care available for any woman in her own healthcare setting, adding that it would prefer that women in Gibraltar were able to access healthcare at home, with no shame or stigma attached and the correct aftercare as well.

“As we eagerly await the rescheduling of the referendum, possibly in late September, as

suggested by the Chief Minister recently, No More Shame would also like to remind everyone that the topic of abortion has not been far from many people’s minds during this pandemic,” the group said.

“In fact, we might have seen an increase in requests due to the pandemic and lockdown.”

“A lockdown where many women may have seen themselves in desperate situations and unable to access the healthcare, both mental health and reproductive, they have needed, leading them to request help from abroad, online.”

“We would therefore urge the Government to consider rescheduling the referendum at the

earliest opportunity and before autumn sets in with the possibility of a second wave of the virus.”