Abortion delay is pointless and damaging

AN ATTEMPT by deputies Carl Meerveld and Liam McKenna to delay the implementation of the island’s updated abortion laws may be well intentioned – but it is inherently ill-judged.

It can be justified only if these two gentlemen have last-minute information of such significance it warrants a an ambush on legislation that gives effect to changes already approved by the States.

But they do not. If it existed, the Committee for Health & Social Care, presenting the Abortion (Guernsey) (Amendment) Law, 2021 and the expert department in these matters, would be taking necessary steps itself.

Instead, justification for the Meerveld-McKenna ‘pause and review’ – islanders are well aware of how effective those are – is Guernsey seeking to follow the UK’s 24-week limit on terminations. An exceptional position compared to other countries, they claim.

The point, however, is that Britain is a conservative, sovereign state with much experience in this field and the States itself, after exhaustive research, consultation and debate in the Assembly, has decided to adopt similar provisions.

So what they seek to delay is no off-the-cuff, under-the-radar liberalisation of laws which some still have difficulty with. The changes reflect real need to make the earlier law of 1997 fit for purpose and the previous States fully endorsed that.

Trying to put a block on the final stage in the exhaustive process of putting a Projet de Loi to the Privy Council for approval is a significant step and island women are rightly furious at this late stage intervention. Many are questioning the relevance of two middle-aged men meddling in female rights. What, in conscience, has it to do with them?

The wider issue is what it says of the judgment of two lawmakers that they, in effect, know better than the previous Assembly and seek to put it straight on abortion?

Islanders are fed up with yo-yo government. If the deputies believe they have evidence to halt the changes, produce it now. Otherwise they should withdraw a pointless and damaging blocking motion which will be lost anyway.

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