This week marks the first anniversary of the launch of the local charity No More Shame (NMS), who have been at the forefront in the fight for a change in abortion legislation for the past two years, and instrumental in leading the Gibraltar for Yes referendum campaign.
The campaign was unfortunately but necessarily suspended due to the current COVID crisis. NMS says it acknowledges that whilst the last few months have indeed been difficult for everyone, they would like to highlight the extra difficulties people who have found themselves unexpectedly pregnant, have faced in not being able to access safe and legal reproductive healthcare at home in Gibraltar.
'Our sources at Women on Web, (WOW) have informed us that as from January 2020 until the end of June 2020, 29 requests for abortions pills were sent from Gibraltar, many of these during the lockdown period. In half a year, more requests were sent than in the whole of 2019 where the figures stand at 20. This represents an increase of 190% when comparing Jan-June 2019/20. Furthermore the nearest clinic in Algeciras has also confirmed that from January of this year up until the end of June they have recorded 15 Gibraltar residents accessing their services, the figures for the entirety of 2019 stand at 21. This represents an increase of 43%, when comparing Jan-June 2019/20.'
'These figures fall short of the whole picture as they do not include any data from other clinics in Malaga or Sevilla (where specialised services are available) or those from procedures carried out in the UK. It is now becoming increasingly clear that pregnant people in Gibraltar are opting to go online in search of abortion pills as a first port of call.Had we had the facilities and healthcare here in Gibraltar, including both before and after counseling, pregnant people would have not needed to turn to the prospect of purchasing pills online. Whilst we are assured that Women on Web is a team of medical doctors, led by Dr Rebecca Gomperts, it is evident that the best care available is the care that you receive within your own healthcare setting. NMS would always prefer that women in Gibraltar are able to access healthcare here at home, with no shame or stigma attached, and the aftercare all of our women deserve.'
'As we eagerly await the rescheduling of the referendum, possibly in late September, as suggested by the Chief Minister recently, NMS would also like to remind everyone that the topic of abortion has not been far from many people’s minds during this pandemic. In fact, we might have seen an increase in requests due to the pandemic and lockdown. A lockdown where many women may have seen themselves in desperate situations and unable to access the healthcare, both mental health and reproductive, they have needed, leading them to request help from abroad, online.'
The charity are urging the Government to consider rescheduling the referendum at the earliest opportunity and before Autumn sets in with the possibility of a second wave of the virus.