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An opportunity for abortion policy reform is on the horizon for the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency situated in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. After almost 150 years of severe restrictions, the island’s Parliament, Tynwald, will shortly debate a new bill to allow Manx women widespread access to abortion services through the island’s healthcare system. In January 2017, Dr Alex Allinson, a general practitioner and a member of the lower branch of Tynwald, the House of Keys, was granted leave to introduce a private member’s bill on abortion. The bill would allow abortion on request up to 14 weeks gestation, or in the case of serious health concerns, serious social grounds, or severe fetal anomaly, up to 24 weeks gestation.1 The draft bill has undergone public consultation and is due to be considered by Tynwald in early 2018.1 The Isle of Man Minister for Health and Social Care, Kate Beecroft, called for any new legislation to be based on evidence.2 In light of this call, we consider how data on the demographics, circumstances and needs of Manx of women who seek abortions under the current law can inform the policy debate.
Current abortion policy on the Isle of Man
As a self-governing British Crown dependency, UK legislation does not automatically extend to the Isle of Man, although many of the island’s laws are similar to those in Great Britain. However, the 1967 Abortion Act, which legalised abortion in a wide range of circumstances, but did not decriminalise it, is a major exception. Until 1995, abortion on the Isle of Man was governed solely by a law dating from Victorian times: the 1872 Criminal Code, which rendered abortion illegal.3
Under the 1995 Termination of Pregnancy Act, abortion is allowed only in limited circumstances under a gestational age framework.4 …
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