JAMAICA – Decriminalising abortion in Jamaica: Christians say ‘Yes’
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
April 26, 2019
by Joan French and Statement of Committed Christians
In mid-2018, following the death of a constituent from a botched abortion, Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn made her protest against the existing laws regarding abortion public via the media. She presented a Motion to the Parliament proposing the decriminalisation of abortion and its replacement by a civil law setting out the conditions under which women would be able to access legal and safe termination of pregnancies. Under Jamaican Statutory law a woman can be sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to terminate a pregnancy, and accomplices or facilitators up to three years. While it is arguable that the Common Law accepts abortion ‘if the life of the mother is in danger’, some doctors have been challenged by the State when they have performed abortions according to their interpretation of that provision.
The result of this situation is that women who choose abortion often have them performed in unsafe conditions, risking their lives. The World Health Organization estimates that 22,000 abortions are performed in Jamaica each year. (WHO, Unsafe Abortions 2004). Many of those who survive suffer serious complications such as severe infections, gangrene in the uterus, haemorrhaging, tearing of the cervix, uterine perforation, laceration of the vaginal wall. The situation disproportionately affects women who are poor and young, since those who have money can find qualified doctors who will perform their abortions for a considerable fee.