Coronavirus causes abortion referendum postponement in Gibraltar

Coronavirus causes abortion referendum postponement in Gibraltar

The government of Gibraltar has announced that due to the ongoing global coronavirus crisis it is delaying a referendum on whether or not the territory will accept new abortion legislation.

The vote had been scheduled for March 19th but will now be rescheduled for a time when “there will be no risk to any age group entitled to vote.”

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula and has its own laws governing abortion. Abortion remains a crime in Gibraltar under Section 162 of the 2011 Crimes Act of Gibraltar and carries with it the sentence of life imprisonment. That being said, no woman has been sentenced under this provision.

In July 2019, the Gibraltar Parliament voted to allow abortion before the 12th week of pregnancy where the mother’s mental or physical health is deemed to be at risk, and later in pregnancies when the unborn child suffers from an undefined “abnormality.”

But a pro-life petition, signed by more than 6,000 people, helped convince the parliament to hold a referendum on the new law.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has spoken to leaders of both the pro-life and pro-abortion campaigns, with all reportedly agreeing that a delay is the best course of action.