THE ISSUES OF ABORTION IN JAMAICA

For more than  five decades, the issues of abortion in Jamaica has remained almost equally a taboo topic as same sex relations.

Abortion

 DEFINITION: “Abortion is the termination of the pregnancy before the fetus is viable“-Medical Dictionary.

The law of abortion is derived from the old 1861 Offense Against the Persons Act  approximately two centuries ago and has remained a literal figurine in many cabinets since Jamaica’s independence (1962).  Presently, like many other taboo issues, the issue of abortion has “unwantedly” emerged to either test the assertiveness or the dialectics of  the Jamaican government. This comes to the forefront of both local and international political reasoning, through interviews with presidential candidate of the United States of America-Donald Trump during an interview with Chris Mathews and Jamaica’s own Minister of Health-Dr. Christopher Tufton dealing with the issues of the causes and effects of Zicka Virus on pregnancy which causes Microcephaly (abnormal smallness of the head, a congenial condition associated with incomplete brain).  The issue of a woman’s right to safely abort an unwanted pregnancy is no tit for tat, but one which in some classification, uproot the reefs and troubles the morally calm sea of religions.

COSMOPOLITAN.COM

According to the Abortion Advisory Policy Review Group report published on February 19, 2007, the group which was established on September 16, 2005 was tasked according to the terms of reference to provide a background on these areas:

  • The high prevalence of abortion worldwide to inlude Jamaica
  • The high toll in terms of maternal maternity and morbidity in countries where abortion is illegal.
  • The consequent need to develop systems ad guidelines to ensure that abortion is safe and accessible to all.
VAGABOMB.COM
The Advisory Policy Review Group composed of thirteen members representing thirteen stakeholder groups and organization to assist in the development of the policy, however, of the thirteen groups and organizations, only two did not sign, therefore an overwhelming support for the content and recommendation of the report.
In the forty page report, the Advisory Group identified some frightening facts which should guide the decision making process of the previous Minister of Health. Some of these facts were:
 
  1.   The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that of 35 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years, this indicates that Jamaica probably has some 22,000 abortions annually, all illegal and largely performed by untrained health workers as well as others. Abortions and complications thereof are the eighth leading cause of maternal deaths in Jamaica affecting adolescents primarily.
  2. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that each·year, over 210 million women globally become pregnant despite available contraceptive and about one-fifth of them resort to abortion. WHO also estimates that 46 million abortions are performed each year. This equates to 35 abortions per 1,000 women aged’15-44 years. Of these 46 million abortions, 27 million are performed legally and 19 million are illegal and unsafe.
  3. Unsafe abortion is entirely preventable, yet it remains a significant cause of maternal morbidity and mortality in much of the developing world.
  4. Worldwide an estimated 6000 women die as a consequence of unsafe abortion. Globally unsafe abortions account for 13% of maternal deaths.
  5. Mortality due to abortion is relatively high where access to abortion is restricted. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that in Africa where abortions are illegal, 680 women die per 100,000 abortions compared to no more than one death per 100,000 abortions in developed regions.
Given the hard researched facts presented in the report, it is founded questionable as to the present position on the issue. The Abortion Policy Review Group made the following recommendations:
  1. Repeal the relevant section of the Offense Against the Persons Act ad replace with a civil law titled ” Termination of Pregnancy Act” allowing the medication termination of the pregnancy.
  2. Develop and maintain specific centers for this activity.
  3. Prescribe a specific age period for which abortion is legal.
  4. Specific training for agency or organizations that offers this service.
  5. Pre and Post abortion counseling.
In conclusion , based on the research and findings both by the World Health Organization and the Abortion Policy Review Group and the current state of affairs relating to the financial position of Jamaicans, the Government’s ability to provide assistance under it’s programmes and the present threat of Zika Virus, the legalization of abortion by mother’s con scent appears to be most suitable as a solution to some of the problem identified, coupled with social programmes and the endorsement of proper family planning could also be suitable counters which the government should take into consideration which is tantamount to its prosperity vision.

 

Written by Krisho Holmes, C/O Y.DAE’S ENT INC
To contact Krisho Holmes, you may email at krishoholmes@gmail.com or join the facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/voicesofthefuture

 

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