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.
Dr. Gabrielle Jamela Hosein
Diary of a Mothering Worker
Apr 24, 2019
THERE ARE women in every neighbourhood in TT who have terminated a pregnancy at least once. From here, our support to current efforts to decriminalise abortion in Jamaica should be clear.
In TT, women can risk jail and pay for a private medical procedure. If they cannot pay, or because poverty, age, lack of information and partner violence prevented them from being supported enough in this life decision, they could end up in hospital with various harms caused from unsafe options, as more than 2,000 women do here every year.
Devout Jamaica debates green light for abortion after rape, incest
by Kate Chappell | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 25 February 2019
KINGSTON, Feb 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Anna-Kay was 21 the first time she got pregnant, in her second year of university, and worried of the shame that would follow if she told her parents.
So Anna-Kay did what about 22,000 women in Jamaica do every year, according to government data, and broke the law. She sold her cell phone to get JM$20,000 (US$150) to pay for an abortion.
ONLINE POLL RESULTS: No to legalising abortion, readers say
Friday, February 08, 2019
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Of the 409 respondents to a recent OBSERVER ONLINE poll, 55 per cent said that abortion should not be legalised.
Forty-five per cent or 186 respondents were in favour of legalising abortion.
Renewed debate on reform of the country's abortion laws is now before the Human Resource and Physical Development Committee of Parliament, which, on January 31, heard submissions from two impassioned individuals.
The time has come to make access to abortion services legal
Published: Saturday | February 2, 2019
The abortion debate in Jamaica is as old as time but there has barely been any positive action to provide women with access to safe, legal and affordable services to terminate pregnancies. Instead, we pussyfoot with our obligations and responsibilities. We pretend abortion services aren’t needed and shouldn’t be allowed and carry on as if a handful of liberal minded Jamaicans are trying to take the country down a path of destruction.
If we are to be honest with ourselves, we would agree that everyone knows or knows of someone in their community who has had an abortion. We know that many of these have been botched and result in serious complications to the woman because they accessed unsafe services from individuals who are not adequately trained to perform an abortion.
ONLINE POLL RESULTS: 51% says no to legalising abortion
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Of the 203 respondents to a recent OBSERVER ONLINE poll, 51 per cent said no to the Jamaican Government legalising abortion.
Government Member of Parliament for West Rural St Andrew, Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, on October 9, opened a debate in the House of Representatives on her motion seeking to have abortion made legal in the island.
Abortion war needs dose of compassion
by Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2018
Our consideration of abortion in Jamaica has, for too long, been characterised by contention and an apparent lack of empathy for those directly affected.
The result has been that there are vulnerable people who have been denied the space to express themselves on the issue, leaving some of us in the dark on the precise circumstances with which they are faced.
Editorial | Democratise right to abortion
Published:Sunday | October 28, 2018
As Christopher Tufton, the health minister, suggests, there is no need to reinvent the wheel with regard to the debate on abortion in Jamaica. At least, not totally. Parliament already has sufficient information on which to act.
So, the existing provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act, which make it almost impossible for a woman to terminate a pregnancy under any circumstance, are anachronistic and cruel and should be repealed forthwith.
Health ministry developing sexual and reproductive health policy
Thursday, October 25, 2018
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Health is pursuing the development of a Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy, which will create a framework for identifying effective strategies to reduce maternal mortality rates.
The framework will focus on strengthening the linkages between obstetric and non-communicable disease programmes and review the Ministry's capacity within the health sector to respond effectively to cases of unsafe abortions.
No need to mislead
Alyssa Nebel & Linnette Vassell
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
In her commentary 'Don't distort abortion conversation, Member of Parliament (MP) Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, published by the Jamaica Observer on July 2, 2108, Phillipa Davies, spokesperson for Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, makes some very misleading statements to justify her organisation's opposition to legalising the termination of pregnancy under specific conditions. She argues that neither the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) nor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) discuss abortion. This argument stems from a surface reading of the SDGs and what seems to be a shallow understanding of CEDAW. In addition, Davies cherry-picks content from the recommendations of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and consequently presents a one-sided and selective interpretation.