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Church on Isle of Man prepares to tackle reform of abortion bill

By Ryan McDougall

The Catholic Church on the Isle of Man’s has shown concern following efforts to legalise abortion on the island.

Mgr John Devine, dean of the island’s Catholic Church, said ‘every abortion is an act of desperation,’ in a letter to the island’s chief minister Howard Quayle.

“The Catholic Church wishes to be supportive of those who find themselves contemplating an abortion, whatever decision they take,” he added, though he stated his concerns regarding the island’s new abortion bill. He said that the bill cites ‘serious social grounds’ or ‘impairments likely to limit either the length or quality of the child’s life’ to grant a late abortion.

As it stands, the Isle of Man’s abortion law is under the Termination of Pregnancy Act 1995, which only allows the practice to be carried out in extreme circumstances, where the mother’s life is endangered or the child has very low chances of survival.

The reform would see that abortions up to 14 weeks granted, and up to 24 weeks if there were medical reasons given.

“The former could be cited if an unplanned pregnancy was considered to be inconvenient,” Mgr Devine wrote.

“The latter is already being used in the UK to abort children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome or even a cleft palate, a condition routinely corrected surgically at a later date.”

Mgr Devine also distanced the Church from some of the other reform protests on the island, where protesters have displayed graphic images. He added that the Catholic Church does not endorse these kinds of demonstrations.

Roughly 40 abortions have been performed on the island in the last 40 years. Mgr Devine stated further concerns regarding the proposal to change the law, saying that ‘premature babies delivered at 24 weeks can now survive.’

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