Guernsey approves regulation to increase abortion entry

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The Parliament of the Channel Island of Guernsey approved Wednesday that a law to prolong the abortion period and abolish the time limit for the abortion of unborn children with disabilities was passed.

The votes held on June 24 on 12 proposals by the Health and Social Committee of the State of Guernsey each led to this.

According to the new law to "modernize" the area's abortion law, the abortion period will be increased to 24 weeks, as in Great Britain. The law passed in 1997 allowed an abortion of up to 12 weeks. There is no upper limit on when a child with "significant fetal anomaly" can be stopped. These proposals were adopted by 23 votes to 13 with one abstention.

The new law also decriminalizes procurement of abortions outside the legal framework. drops a requirement that the mother consult two doctors; Allow nurses and midwives to perform medical abortions; and enables medical abortions at home.

It will also force conscientious objectors to make transfers immediately; "Make it clear that doctors may not refuse to take care that is necessary to save lives or prevent serious harm to a woman's physical or mental health"; and "create an authority in the law for the Health and Social Care Committee to adopt regulations that include additional provisions regarding the circumstances under which the alternative practitioners' right to objectively protest against the provision of care related to abortion, can be exercised. ”

Guernsey is a self-governing crown dependency for which Britain is responsible and which is located off the coast of Normandy. The new law will extend to Guernsey and the islands connected to it, but not to Alderney and Sark, which are also part of the Guernsey bailiwick.

During the debate on the proposals, MP Richard Graham said, according to the Guernsey Press: "I regret that Health & Social Care has identified the UK as the gold standard to follow, instead I urge you to contact those countries that do low values ​​have abortion rates and try to learn lessons from them. They are no less civilized, no less compassionate than we are, and they seem to me to be a far better role model for abortions than Britain. "

The Bailiwick Express reported that Deputy Health and Social Committee member Emilie McSwiggan said: “We are trying to find a way that is as compassionate as possible, as fair as possible. This balances the choices people make and enables them to make these decisions safely and within a clear, modern and fair legal framework. "

Several amendments to the new law, aimed at shortening the proposed abortion period or maintaining abortion limits for unborn children with disabilities, were rejected on June 19. The changes would have kept the same deadlines for abortion of children with disabilities as for all unborn children; clarified that non-fatal diseases such as Down syndrome or cleft palate are not considered fatal fetal anomalies; and changed the abortion time limit to 16 or 22 weeks instead of 24.

Previously, a Sursis motive had been defeated to keep the draft law open and to allow wider public consultation.

According to official information, 113 abortions were carried out in Guernsey in 2018, three more with residents of Guernsey in England and Wales.

The Catholic Church on the island held a night vigil at St. Joseph's Church in St. Peter Port before last week's debate.

Bishop Egan of Portsmouth, the diocese to which Guernsey belongs, urged Catholics earlier this month to oppose "fundamentally despicable" efforts to liberalize the island's abortion law.

In a June 7 message, he argued that the changes would violate the "you should not kill" commandment and "love your neighbor as yourself" instruction, which formed the basis of the law in civilized societies.

"For this reason, abortion and the current proposal to modernize, ie increase, availability in Guernsey are fundamentally despicable," he said. "Under the wrong word" modernization ", attempts are being made to further liberalize abortion in order to make it much easier and more common."

Egan said: "They want to have abortions much later in pregnancy, have abortions with less bureaucracy, do abortions at home and outside of hospitals, and grim abortions until birth for a disabled child, a child feeling unwell, or a child with Downs syndrome . How does a person with Downs syndrome feel? "

"You euphemistically refer to abortion as a" procedure, "" dismissal "with the help of" professionals. "But what procedure can justify a professional ending an innocent baby's life? The more you see what an abortion is, the more you can see that it is against life, against people and against women. "

In a joint letter, John P. Ogier, pastor of the Spurgeon Baptist Church, and Father Bruce Barnes, the Catholic Dean of the Guernsey Bailiwick, criticized the timing of the debate amid the coronavirus pandemic.

They wrote: "We believe that this is a completely inappropriate time to consider such a sensitive and morally important issue in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic and with such a shortened time frame for public debate and reflection."

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