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June 28, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Another formerly pro-life, conservative Catholic nation has voted to allow the killing of unborn children.  

On Thursday, June 24, the feast of the birth of John the Baptist, the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, on the south coast of Spain, held a referendum on a 2019 parliamentary decision to allow abortion for two reasons: If the mother’s physical or mental health is endangered by her unborn child or if the child is at risk of a fatal birth defect. The “Yes” side won. 

The “yes” vote, backed by Gibraltar’s coalition government, received 62 percent of the vote. Despite the pleas and prayers of the majority-Catholic nation’s Bishop Carmelo Zammit, only 12,343 Gibraltarians voted, representing a 53 percent turnout. 

Critics fear the “mental health” provisions will be used as a cover for “abortion on demand” up to the 12-week limit. The new law will take effect in late July.  

Gibraltar, which recently voted overwhelmingly to remain a British territory, is a wealthy nation, and its Catholic bishop told LifeSiteNews today that his people are helpful and generous but also committed to their personal freedom.  

“Doing what you like, and not being told what to do: that is the atmosphere of the day, really,” said Bishop Zammit. “The majority thinks like that.”    

Eighty percent of Gibraltarians are baptized Catholics, but their bishop takes a realist view of their true commitments.   

“I always say it’s 10 percent who are committed to their faith,” said Zammit. “And it’s not surprising that many, even as Catholics, did not vote for ‘No’; they voted for Yes because they think in a very individualistic way. They think of their own interests, let’s put it that way, rather than the interests of the baby.” 

The bishop believes that the philosophy of “I decide for myself” is “a trend.” 

“We are in a way moving in the direction of most countries,” he said. “There is a lot of lobbying in this respect. There is a lot of money involved also, and the European Union (recently produced) a paper which deals with women’s rights.” 

Zammit said the Matić report, which was approved by the European Parliament, has “many good things in it, but there are some which obviously are really not laudable.” He mentioned specifically the notion that abortion is a “human right” and the motion to remove conscience clauses, something the bishop said goes against religious freedom.  

“I hope that doesn’t happen in Gibraltar,” he continued, and noted that the country’s Chief Minister has said there will be a conscience clause so that doctors and nurses who don’t want to take part in abortions will be free not to do so. However, he is not positive this will happen.  

“I always say that it’s one thing saying something, and it’s another thing putting something into practice after time,” Zammit said.  

The bishop revealed that many people in Gibraltar were happy with the referendum result whereas others were crying, thinking of the babies. Having fought spiritually and pastorally against the “Yes” to killing Gibraltar’s most vulnerable babies, he is now taking a pragmatic approach. 

“We have to accept the results,” Zammit said.  

“It’s a democratic country, and even if we don’t like it, we have to accept it. And what I have always said as a bishop, when (pro-life Gibraltarians) have approached me is, we have to think about helping people because it’s no use preaching the right to life for babies if you don’t help women who are in difficulties,” he continued.  

“If there is no help, how can you encourage them to protect life (when) they are having problems? So we need good support services.” 

The bishop said Gibraltar does not have good support for women in difficult pregnancy situations. He wants the government to set up a professional service, as he says it has promised to do. For the time being, there is a private, voluntary service called Carelink that Zammit recommends. It provides such material support as money and clothing.  

“They are already helping people who have problems,” he said, while underscoring that he views this as a stopgap measure until Gibraltar provides proper professional help for women in crisis.  

The bishop reiterated that Gibraltarians have voted for abortion, so now the emphasis must be on helping women choose life. 

“We have to accept that Gibraltar is like Spain, like England, like Italy, like Ireland, like everywhere else, practically,” Zammit said.  

“On our part as Catholics, we try to help those who are suffering due to an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy,” he continued.  

“That’s our mission now.” 

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