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Together Gibraltar pauses abortion referendum campaign

Together Gibraltar yesterday announced it will pause its campaign for a referendum on abortion following what it calls a “redirection” of the Chief Minister’s views.

A spokesperson for Together Gibraltar said they launched a campaign for a referendum last month after Mr Picardo “had made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of changing Gibraltar’s abortion laws, stating that his government had no mandate to do so”.

The group said the campaign for a referendum was based on their belief that this would be the “only way to give the Government of Gibraltar a mandate to change the law”, but they welcomed the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo’s “change of heart”.

“The Chief Minister's relatively quick redirection goes to show that with collective campaigning, change can be achieved,” they added, while giving credit to the various civil society platforms that brought this issue to prominence, through campaigning and grassroots support.

During his Direct Democracy appearance on GBC last month, Mr Picardo said the three ways to approach changing abortion laws in Gibraltar were to hold a referendum, consider a referendum as a potential policy for the next general election, or to publish a bill to change the Crime Act in Gibraltar and to go to a consultation period on it.

Together Gibraltar said its preferred approach is that of decriminalisation and consultation, “with a view to updating Gibraltar’s abortion laws in line with the large majority of the Western world”.

They added: “We believe access to safe, legal abortion services are a human right, and such rights should not be put to a referendum. It is for governments to legislate responsibly, in line with expert evidence and opinion.”

“We are hopeful that, as part of a thorough, honest and transparent consultation process, the Government would, above all else, take into account the copious expert opinion and evidence that already exists within the scientific, medical and human rights communities in relation to the matter, and thus do the right thing by Gibraltarian women.”

“Together Gibraltar will only resume its campaign for a referendum if its membership feels that the consultation process does not result in a change to the law which is acceptable in line with the positions of international organisations whose aim it is to safeguard human rights, such as the UN, the World Health Organisation and the EU.”

Together Gibraltar is looking forward to meeting with the Chief Minister today with other pro-choice campaigners to discuss abortion and ways to move this agenda forward.

“It is vital that Gibraltar has a united progressive front to stand up to relevant issues in our community together,” the group added.

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