Reform campaigners have welcomed this week’s news.
But a pressure group that fought against the new legislation mourned the ‘loss of legal protections’ for the unborn child and claimed ‘abuses’ had now been enshrined in a ‘wicked’ Manx law.
Pro-choice group the Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation said reform was overdue, arguing the 1995 Termination of Pregnancy (Medical Defences) Act did not stop abortions, it just made them unsafe.
A spokesman said: ‘Women broke the law by importing pills, travelled to England for legal abortions without any support from the health service here, or worse, took the DIY route to try and cause miscarriages.
‘It’s taken 24 years to update this cruel, discriminative law and decriminalise abortion and make abortion care part of reproductive healthcare.’
CALM said it trusted the implementation of the new law would not take long.
‘Even now women are still travelling across to the adjacent island to access abortion services which should – will – be available here.’
The group thanked the supporters of its campaign, particularly Dr Allinson and the Tynwald members who helped to create ‘a workable law which will provide the best abortion service in the British Isles’.
The news was also welcomed by the Handmaids Isle of Man group, whose stunning Tynwald Day protest in 2017 became the iconic image of the reform campaign.
The group posted on Facebook: ‘Thank you to Dr Alex Allinson and Clare Bettison for their work in Tynwald, to CALM for their lobbying and to everyone who supported them and Handmaids IOM.’
But Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform argued the bill involved ‘formally legalising sex-selective abortion, at least between seven-14 weeks’ and ‘widely interpretable’ rules that would it enable it up to 24 weeks – this is despite safeguards having been added to the legislation, designed to prevent that happening.
The bill also ‘worsened’ disability discrimination and enabled ;informally eugenic screening out of b babies with impairments’.
Outlining ‘abuses’ in the act, HEAR argued the law removes protections for unborn babies to be born alive and cared for after late terminations and criticised the fact that criminal penalties for women who self-abort would be removed.
HEAR spokesman Sue Richardson said: ‘This is a dark and sad day for the Isle of Man, as we remove the sensible and civilised protections that existed in our own 1995 law, which while imperfect was light years ahead of the situation in the adjacent island.
‘We have further institutionalised injustice, inequality, and inhumanity into our laws, and the island is a profoundly less gentle and special place as a consequence.’
She added: ‘We have imported the worst aspects of British abortion practice into our law and actually introduce new abuses.’
In a dig at the access zones provision, aimed to stop women and medics being harassed, she argued the new law ‘bans compassionate help being offered to women outside abortion facilities, one of the few positive innovations across’.
The Abortion Reform Act weakened the ‘conscience protections’ for doctors, she added.
‘Those of us who opposed this bill from the beginning now have the task, as do those members of future generations who survive this wicked law, to undo this corruption of Manx values and our laws, and repair as best we can the damage to our society that abortion-on-demand will introduce,’ she said.
‘Today marks the beginning of a new battle to restore and re-humanise our politics and our society.’
Source: IOM Today