Gibraltar to hold referendum vote to legalize abortion

baby feet Liudmila Fadzeyeva/Shutterstock

The people of Gibraltar will vote in a referendum next week on a bill that would legalize abortion in the small British territory.

The referendum vote was postponed from March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and will now take place on June 24.

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Its northern border is with Spain, which asserts a claim to the territory.

Gibraltar has a total population of around 32,000. It has one Catholic diocese and an estimated 25,000 Catholics.

An aerial view of Gibraltar. / Adam Cli (CC BY-SA 4.0).
An aerial view of Gibraltar. / Adam Cli (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Abortion is illegal in Gibraltar and punishable by up to life imprisonment. It is permitted only if the life of the mother is at risk.

In 2019, the Gibraltar Parliament passed the Crimes (Amendment) Act 2019, which would legalize abortion in Gibraltar up to 12 weeks if the woman’s mental or physical health are considered at risk or if she would face grave injury.

Abortion would also be permitted at any time if the child has a fatal fetal abnormality.

Gibraltarians will vote on whether to allow the Crimes (Amendment) Act 2019 to come into force.

The Gibraltar Pro-Life Movement has opposed the bill and is running the “Save Babies, Vote No” campaign.

Around 500 people attended the group’s March for Life on June 15, where campaigners said that abortion is not the solution, noting the importance of helping people in difficult situations, including with better mental health services.

Churches in the Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar are hosting holy hours and other prayer events for the intention of protecting unborn life.

HOPE, a support group for people who have experienced miscarriage and stillbirth, is leading a prayer novena to all the angels and saints for the protection of life in Gibraltar.

One parish will hold 12 hours of Eucharistic adoration on June 19 and the Institute of Christ the King has organized a 24-hour rosary relay before the Blessed Sacrament on the day of the referendum vote.

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