IT is within living memory that the Bishop of Gibraltar had so much sway and the Catholic Church was so strong that it was able to persuade the then government to ban the import of magazines such as Playboy onto the Rock. So much has changed since then and now Gibraltar has become far more permissive, recognising gay marriages and although the current Bishop who arrived from Malta is considered conservative, the church certainly has less power than it ever did. One area however that has sparked considerable controversy is the matter of abortion which is not currently freely allowed in Gibraltar and because of this, rather than legislate, the government has decided to allow registered voters to guide its decision by way of a referendum which takes place on March 19. Voters are being encouraged to ensure that they are registered to take part in the referendum and two lead organisations, Gibraltar for Yes and Gibraltar Pro Life Movement are recognised as lead campaign groups over this decision. The outcome is of the vote will depend upon how strongly voters feel on the matter but as Catholicism is the main religion on the Rock, should that church be able to mobilise its followers and others are not particularly motivated, then on balance, the vote could be in favour of continuing the ban.