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Matthew McCusker

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British island with only 83,000 people about to pass one of world’s most extreme abortion bills

Matthew McCusker

ISLE OF MAN, February 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The legislature of the Isle of Man is debating a radical new abortion law which would permit the killing of unborn children up to birth and could lead to the imprisonment of doctors who refuse to perform abortions.

The bill is one of the most extreme pieces of abortion legislation anywhere in the world.

The Bill explicitly permits abortion-on-demand up until 14 weeks. It implicitly permits abortion-on-demand up until birth.

Under the new legislation, abortion would be permitted from 15 to 23 weeks when a “medical practitioner believed in good faith the pregnancy posed a risk of serious injury to a woman’s life or health.” Beyond 24 weeks abortion would be permitted “to prevent grave permanent injury to a woman’s health” if the “continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk greater [than] if it were aborted.”

However, the Bill defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The legislation would, therefore, permit abortion in cases where a medical practitioner made a subjective determination that a mother’s “social well-being” was threatened by pregnancy. Under these conditions, abortion would effectively be permitted “on-demand.”  

Furthermore, the Bill gravely threatens doctors’ rights of conscientious objection by stating that a medical practitioner must participate in abortion when a woman’s “health” is threatened with grave permanent injury. The inclusion of “social well-being” in the definition of health leaves pro-life medical practitioners exposed to the possibility of criminal sanctions, including up to two years’ imprisonment, in an effectively unlimited range of circumstances.

The Isle of Man, which lies between Britain and Ireland, is semi-independent from the United Kingdom. Abortion on the island is currently more restricted than on the British mainland, but the Abortion Reform Bill would make abortion more easily available on the Isle of Man than anywhere else in the British Isles.

The House of Keys, the lower house of the island’s parliament, voted 22-0 for the bill at Second Reading on 30 January. The legislation has now passed to the clauses stage where its provisions will be debated in more detail.

The final vote in the House of Keys is likely to take place in March. If approved, the Bill will then go to the Legislative Council, the island's upper house, which can return the legislation with amendments.

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Members of Tynwald Court can be contacted here

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