Gibraltar votes to ease strict abortion ban

Residents in Gibraltar voted in favor of easing a strict abortion law, officials announced on Friday (June 25).

The tiny British territory on the southern tip of Spain had a criminal law that banned abortion in all circumstances.

It came with a maximum punishment in theory of life in prison.

No one has ever been convicted.

But citizens and residents are forced to go to Spain or travel to Britain to have an abortion.

This vote would allow pregnancies to be terminated by a registered physician within the first 12 weeks, in cases where the pregnancy carries more risk to the mother's health than termination.

Around 62% of voters who took part backed the change.

Voter turnout was about half the population - 52%.

That included residents, like Sheela:

"I think this is about time women have a choice to do what they want, I am not pro-abortion but I am pro-choice, I think each person should at the end of the day have their own right to do what they want."

Pro-life groups, who opposed the new bill, say the wording of the law could ultimately allow most abortions after 12 weeks of conception.

But even with the new amendment, Gibraltar's law remains more restrictive than in most of the rest of Europe.