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Jersey abolishes unnecessary wait times for abortions

Yesterday, the States of Jersey approved legislation, spearheaded by Channel Islands Humanists committee member and Deputy of the States of Jersey Louise Doublet, to abolish the requirement for women and girls to wait seven days between two medical consultations when accessing abortion services. The States of Jersey voted in favour of the legislation by 40 to one, with eight deputies absent. Channel Islands Humanists has welcomed this legislation which brings abortion law on the island more into line with international standards and gives women greater autonomy over their own medical care.

Abortion is safer the earlier it is performed in a pregnancy. Jersey’s laws prevent abortions being performed after the 12th week. Previously, if the first medical appointment took place when a woman was 11 weeks pregnant, then she would have no choice but to seek off-island care, which not only would mean incurring significant financial costs but also cause delays in treatment.

Louise Doublet, citing World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance, stated that the waiting period ‘demeaned women as decision makers.’ She added, ‘a mandatory waiting period could result in women undergoing surgical procedures or having to travel off-Island unnecessarily. Approving this amendment would remove this requirement, in line with international medical best practice.’

Channel Islands Humanists Chair Dave Crocker commented,

‘We are delighted that the States of Jersey has so strongly supported the abolition of this medically unnecessary barrier. No other comparable jurisdiction has such restrictions, there were attempts to oppose its introduction over twenty years ago, and it runs against WHO guidance. There is simply no justification for maintaining it.

‘Although this is a step forward in realising women and girls’ reproductive rights, Jersey’s laws are still more restrictive than in the UK and we hope the States of Jersey therefore brings forth further reforms.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read the draft legislation.

Read more about our work on abortion.

Read more about our work on Channel Islands Humanists.

Channel Islands Humanists is a part of Humanists UK. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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