June 2019

In defence of unborn children

On the 16th May, Gibraltar Pro-Life Movement held a Public Meeting to present ‘A Response to the Gibraltar Government’s Proposed Abortion Law Change.’

Karenza Morillo opened the meeting and mentioned that some members of the group had recently returned from the UK where they had taken part in the ‘March for Life’. 

Karenza then introduced Professor of Bioethics, Dr. Bernard Farrell-Roberts MA STL PhD who presented the document ‘A Response to the Gibraltar Government’s Proposed Abortion Law Change.’ in which he enumerated many concerns about the Government’s proposed law change which he set out under 12 headings   

1. Proposed Justification for the change to the Law. It is ironic indeed that the justification for making this legal change is given as the similarity between the legislation in Gibraltar and the law in Northern Ireland that has been judged to be “disproportionate and incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights”. Yet the reality is that it is this very European Convention that deprives unborn children of the most fundamental of all Human Rights, that of life itself. When dealing with human life, specifically in this case the taking of the life of yet to be born human beings, no Government should ever use the actions of others to justify their own ones, especially by something as tenuous as a perceived similarity with a law in another country. The Government is duty bound to seek the common good of their electorate by considering what is good and best for the people of Gibraltar, regardless of the standards that others are attempting to impose upon us. 

2. Gibraltar: An opportunity to lead, and not to be led.  The Government of Gibraltar has the opportunity right now to be a light for others to follow, a light representing the Truth of human life, to join a fast growing highly significant international lobby who cannot understand how human beings can kill their offspring, kill those who are entitled to exactly the same human rights as those who are killing them, the children who are human beings from the moment of their conception. They can join others such as the Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey, who this week signed the state’s near-total abortion ban. This legislation (House Bill 314, “Human Life Protection Act”), bans all abortions in the state except when “abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk” to the woman. It criminalizes the procedure, reclassifying abortion as a Class A felony, punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison for doctors. However, attempted abortions by the mother will be reclassified as a Class C penalty, the lowest level. The legislation makes no exceptions for victims or rape or incest. Last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law his state’s so-called “foetal heartbeat” bill, a measure that will prohibit abortions after a heartbeat is detected in an embryo, which is typically five to six weeks into a pregnancy, and before most women know that they’re pregnant. Georgia was the sixth to pass such a law, and the fourth this year alone. The Government of Gibraltar has the opportunity to join these states and show others that they are an auto-determining Government that thinks for itself and seeks to follow the truest and highest standards of Human Rights, rather than adopt the moral standards that others wish to impose upon them. 

3. The Importance
of Ethics
Abortion for a long time now has been ethically problematic and is regarded by many as unjust because it destroys the unborn human infant. That this is the key issue in relation to the ethics of abortion is known by any GCSE level school child. It is not an obscure point. The issue continues to engage the philosophy and theology journals and to be the subject of extended discussion in scholarly monographs (for example Jones (2004)1, Coope (2006)2).  It is utterly inexplicable that such a profound change to Gibraltarian life and standards should be contemplated at this moment in time, when a serious discussion on the ethics of abortion, and the implications of introducing the same on those who work in the health service, still has to take place.  Such a profound change to long-held moral standards will have a significant and detrimental effect on those charged with patient care, those responsible for the full and intelligible disclosure of medical implications and procedures, and all those whom such a change in the law will affect. Such a change must be absorbed and understood by the community, and the only way to achieve this is for full disclosure of all the facts regarding abortions to be made available to the people of Gibraltar. For example, one such fact is the proven effect that such a change will bring about on the medical profession. Until now all medical practitioners in Gibraltar have been involved in safeguarding, protecting, and saving human lives. If this legislation were to be passed, suddenly we would have the first medical practitioners in Gibraltar whose professional activities and duties include the destruction of human life. The impact of such a fundamental change to these duties, and the impact of the same on the practitioners themselves, their families, and the wider community, needs to be fully researched, digested, and disclosed, prior to forcing it upon the practitioners, the medical professionals, and the administrators concerned.

4. Duties relating to the Unborn Child It is essential that the duties that arise as a result of the presence in the pregnant mother of another human life are acknowledged, accepted, and enforced. In light of this, political and academic debate regarding the ethics of abortion are necessary in order to evaluate the probable implications of the invocation of conscientious objection in this context. It is important to understand the probable impact, based upon documented fact and recorded experience, on those who choose to invoke this option, and also understand the probable incidence of the same. It is also essential that the ethics of deliberate feticide is evaluated and understood. No law should be passed imposing such a fundamental change to the morality and medical practice of Gibraltar without a clear understanding not only of the ethics involved, but also of the impact such a change will have on our community.  Dr. B. Farrell-RobertsSpace only allows a few points to be reprinted here but the full, footnoted document can be found online at