More than 3,600 individuals and groups responded to the Abortion Reform Bill consultation

Abortion is set to be decriminalised on the Isle of Man as part of a radical reform.

The changes are set to turn the self-governing crown dependency, where abortion is currently only allowed in very limited circumstances, into one of the world’s most progressive places for reproductive rights.

The legislation, which will make the laws even more relaxed than in England and Wales, will allow abortion up to 14 weeks on request, up to 24 weeks in cases of foetal anomaly or serious social reasons, and after 24 weeks in rare circumstances where the life of the mother or baby is at risk.

Counselling must be offered before and after the procedure, and a clause allows medical professionals to not deliver treatment if it clashes with their personal views.

The move follows a consultation on The Abortion Reform Bill which received more responses than any other on the island, with more than 3,600 respondents giving feedback.

Alex Allinson, the politician elected after placing the issue at the centre of his manifesto, said the aim of the reforms is to take abortion “out of the realm of the criminal justice system” and make it available “on request” to women in a broad range of circumstances.

The former GP said decriminalising abortion would free up midwives from “not constantly having to look over their shoulder”, allowing them to “look forward and provide decent services”.

He called the reforms a “major step forward”.

“What we’re doing is making it legal and firmly putting it in terms of women’s healthcare,” he said.

“And I think that’s very, very important, that women are actually empowered to be part of the system that supplies their healthcare.

“This is the first move to break down some of the stigma about abortion, to try to get rid of the shame some women feel, either making the decision or afterwards, which can affect their mental health, so it’s more than symbolism, this is a really positive step forward.”

In England and Wales, abortion is legal on a wide range of grounds but not decriminalised entirely.

Dr Allinson said the move on the Isle of Man and “will hopefully lead the way” with regard to the Irish referendum and other countries considering reform.