Abortion debate - The Deep Divide

Tuesday 3rd March - Christine Vasquez

There are moments in the development of a community when an issue slashes across it, tearing open a wound that may take its time to heal. The abortion debate is one of them and nowhere is the divide deeper and dirtier than on social media.

The debate on whether or not to allow abortion in Gibraltar is one that was long overdue. It is a debate to be had and one which governments have been unwilling to get drawn into and legislate on. The decision is to be taken by the people. But, referendums on matters where communities are so divided are dangerous.

I’m certainly not going to go into the arguments of the two opposing sides and hope not to make the rookie error of using language either can interpret as support for them. No. One of the real dangers of polarised debates and campaigns is the division they cause: among families, friends, colleagues-within communities. Are we not witnessing the UK whimpering from these effects of Brexit?

For many the decision will not be an easy one to make. It is a complex, emotive issue and its enormity requires it be given the importance and respect it deserves. Not to reflect on all sides of the arguments would be to do Gibraltar, and generations to come, a disservice.

But what Gibraltar needs now is not tribalism and witch hunts. It does not need insults and accusations. It does not need embellished facts in the peddling of a point of view.

When the mask slips we see a very ugly side to our make up.

Roll on March the 19th. Let each person exercise their freedom to vote - and then let us return to being model citizens in a community that prides itself on being an example to the world on respect and tolerance.