On 24 June Gibraltar will hold a referendum on whether to introduce a new abortion law to the territory.
The referendum was initially scheduled for 19 March 2020 and the voting age was lowered to 16 for the vote. However, the referendum was delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ballot paper question has been set as “Should the Crimes Amendment Act 2019, which defines the circumstances which would allow abortion in Gibraltar, come into force?”.
The official campaign for the ‘no’ vote is being run by Gibraltar Pro-Life Movement who are running the ‘Save Babies, Vote No’ campaign. The campaign has produced an extensive fact check guide that outlines the key issues with the proposed law change.
In response to last week’s news that England and Wales recorded the highest ever number of abortions in 2020, the Gibraltar Pro-Life Movement wrote: “Laws change behaviour. Once we let the protection of life go, abortion rates inevitably rise”.
Gibraltar Pro-Life Movement spokesperson James Brenig said: “We are looking forward to working with our volunteers across Gibraltar over the coming weeks to give honest information to voters on the fundamental human rights question that we will all be facing on 24th June. Once abortion is legalised, it becomes impossible to restrict. Laws shape behaviours and attitudes. We still have time in Gibraltar to stop this becoming our reality”.
A strong display of support
Their speeches emphasised that Gibraltar’s mental health services must be revamped to provide adequate help for people experiencing difficulties.
Children also brought red heart-shaped balloons, representing the beating hearts of unborn children, up the steps of the Piazza.
Patricia Parody, Chairperson of Gibraltar Pro-Life Movement, welcomed all those in attendance and thanked recent volunteers. She said:
“Every day, new faces of people from this community are appearing on social media, each of them outlining why they believe a NO vote is the only just vote on 24th June. For some, that NO vote comes from a commitment to human rights, for some, it is grounded in faith and a belief in the human dignity of every person from the moment of conception, for some, it is from personal experiences of getting through unplanned pregnancies despite all the challenges, or for some, sadly it is from going through abortion without any positive support and regretting it. For others, it is a combination of these reasons. I am inspired every day by our volunteers who come from every part of this community and every background. We are diverse and yet ultimately we are all the same, all part of the same human family”.
Lady Cristina Caruana also addressed the crowd, saying: “I know that you will agree that we are a community of support, care, compassion and protection. This became abundantly clear in the last year as we dealt collectively with the crisis that came to our door with the Covid pandemic. I think it’s fair to say that we took whatever steps were necessary to protect the most vulnerable among us”.
Father of four, James Brenig, emphasised his concerns about how extreme the abortion proposals are, outlining how women’s lives in pregnancy are already protected under Gibraltar’s laws. He also remarked that examples from across the world show that abortion rates always multiply once laws are changed. “We know that law changes behaviour, and everywhere that abortion is legalised, the number of abortions go up. In Britain, the number of abortions quadrupled in the first few years and has been rising steadily ever since and sadly 1 in 5 babies now have their lives ended by abortion. More recently in Ireland, abortion rates shot up immediately after the law was liberalised despite assurances to the contrary from politicians there before the vote”.
He also remarked about how the word ‘child’, while mentioned seven times in the current law, is absent from the new proposal.
Stephane Yeo, organiser of the CareLink programme that aids pregnant women in need, new mothers and vulnerable families also spoke, saying:
“We simply need to do better for our young women and children. We need to build a society where there are other real solutions and options, aid and support. Abortion is never a positive solution. Somebody dies. We can do better as a society for our women. This is why I’ve been involved in CareLink from the beginning. It’s wonderful how much of an impact it can make to a woman or family to know that there is help and support out there – to know they are never alone and that the community cares”.
She added: “Abortion is not good or empowering to women. Abortion regret is very real for countless women and we have heard many testimonies here in Gibraltar of how it has negatively impacted women’s lives. Many say the last thing they believed was that they had a choice, but instead felt it was expected of them. We can and need to do so much better as a society”.
A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: “It is incredible to see so many Gibraltarians stand up for the rights of the unborn”.
“The ‘Save Babies, Vote No campaign’ is fighting hard to continue to protect unborn children and support mothers”.