Abortion Rights UK would like to extend our support and admiration to all the brave members of the Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation (CALM) in the Isle of Man, who are campaigning for equal access to abortion with women living in nearby Britain. Abortion rights are human rights and no woman should be forced to continue with an unwanted pregnancy, or travel to terminate it, because her government refuses to enshrine her right to a choice.
So what’s going on? Unlike Britain, where abortion is legal in certain circumstances, women in the Isle of Man are subject to stringent and outdated restrictions on their bodily autonomy. In order to prove sufficient physical or mental health grounds for an abortion, Manx women are legally required to undergo far more rigorous consultations with both a gynecologist and a psychiatrist. The abortion time limit is half that of Britain, at 12 weeks (excepting cases of risk to the mother’s live or severe foetal abnormalities). Meanwhile, to qualify for an abortion on the grounds of rape, a woman must have reported her rape, and signed an affidavit. This is in spite of the fact that, according to Rape Crisis England and Wales, post-traumatic stress symptoms severely affect many victims’ ability to do this.
This outdated state of affairs has resulted in huge detriment to Manx women:
- Over 40 women per year forced to travel to Britain for abortion procedure; fewer than 10 legal abortions carried out annually on the Isle of Man
- Financial barrier for the poorest in society, with the cost of travel and a private abortion at least £1000
- Social stigma attached to abortion, due to lack of discussion platform
- Personal trauma of facing abortion away from family and friends; in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, women are not allowed to bring their fetuses back for funerals at home
- Increased likelihood of self-induced abortion using abortion pills, which carries a penalty of up to 2 years in prison.
For a sensitive and comprehensive summary of all the issues involved, see this Independent article.
If you are currently seeking an abortion in the Isle of Man, we would like you to know that you are not alone. Abortion providers BPAS and Marie Stopes offer reduced rates for women from the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Meanwhile, a new BPAS helpline for women in the Isle of Man who have bought abortion pills can be reached on 0800 077 6049.
Those interested in joining the campaign to expand abortion provision on the Isle of Man, you can view CALM’s Facebook page here and sign the Change.org petition here.We support the campaign in the Isle of Man calling for Tynwald to bring the 1995 Termination of Pregnancy Act up to date, and to recognise abortion as a healthcare issue, rather than a criminal issue. The
We support the campaign in the Isle of Man calling for Tynwald to bring the 1995 Termination of Pregnancy Act up to date, and to recognise abortion as a health care issue, rather than a criminal issue. The current anticipated review date of 2018 is completely unacceptable when this highly paternalistic approach to women’s rights is affecting the lives of so many Manx women now.
Alice Chilcott, Abortion Rights Volunteer