GIBRALTAR has overwhelmingly voted to relax its draconian anti-abortion law in a referendum held on Thursday.

Voters on the Rock backed said ‘yes’ to end a ban on abortion that carries a punishment of life imprisonment for those who have an illegal procedure or assist in one.

Although in reality no woman or doctor was ever convicted of the crime, it meant women from the British Overseas Territory had to cross the border to Spain or fly to the UK to have the procedure.

Gibraltar’s voters were asked to approve a change to the law to allow abortions within 12 weeks of pregnancy if going ahead would be riskier to the woman’s mental or physical health – such as in cases of rape or incest – or afterwards, when foetuses have fatal physical defects.

Some 62% voted to change the law, with 36% voting against out of 12,343 votes.

Gibraltar’s government would implement the new laws within 28 days, said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who supported the “yes” campaign.

The vote was due take place in March 2020 but was delayed by the coronavirus crisis which made holding such an event a risk to public health.


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