Following permission in January 2017 to bring forward a private members bill, member of the Isle of Man parliament Dr Alex Allinson asked for feedback on the draft Abortion Reform Bill between 7 July and 18 September 2017. The Bill proposes changes to the Act to offer women access on request up to 14 weeks, and changes to the grounds for access beyond 14 weeks.
A total of 3,644 people responded through an online survey on the government’s Consultation Hub, including submissions from medical organisations, support organisations and campaign groups. Of these responses, 77.7% were from women, and 21.8% from men. The majority of respondents said they were aged 17-54. 93.6% of responses were from people who told us that they live in the Isle of Man and 6.3% who told us that they live elsewhere, generally in the UK and Ireland. Additional paper and email responses were received and are included in the analysis of the consultation responses.
The majority of responses were in favour of reform:
- 87% agree that a woman should have the choice to request an abortion up to 14 weeks
- 7% agree that a woman should have the choice to request an abortion without having to report the rape
- 5% think that a woman should have the choice to request an abortion if a fatal abnormality is identified, including after 24 weeks
- 2% think that there could be circumstances in which an abortion should be provided after the 24th week
- 2% think counselling should be best provided on-Island, funded by the NHS
- Only 2.8% did not choose any of the options about providing counselling or information about counselling
- 8% believe that that there are some social factors or situations when a woman should be able to choose to have an abortion. 1,686 people provided further comments on what these social factors could be, including domestic abuse, addictions, homelessness, lack of support and low income
- 81% think that the cost of abortion services should be provided by the National Health Service as part of women’s overall reproductive healthcare
- 9% believe that healthcare staff should be able to opt out if they have conscientious objections
- 1% think that there should be legal protection to prevent protest or demonstrations outside any facility which provides abortion advice or treatments on the Isle of Man
1,540 people made further comments at the end of the consultation. An analysis will be done of the replies and a report prepared.
SOURCE: Isle of Man, October 2017