Wed | Apr 26, 2017

Don't abort women's rights

Published:Friday | April 24, 2015 | 4:04 AM

I write to commend Minister Lisa Hanna's speaking to a difficult but realistically urgent matter. This is leadership.

Obviously, affirming the urgency of women's reproductive rights is neither politically expedient nor point-accumulating in general. I am tired of meeting poor Jamaican sisters who do not have access to professional advice concerning the pros and cons of the challenging decision to abort or not.

It seems pretty clear to me that many persons will misunderstand her call, simply because they do not understand the depth of this necessity. Who knows, for example, that within a legal framework, pregnant girls and women can receive professional advice without the stigma and discrimination that currently prevails? Who knows that medical personnel who are so qualified are not at liberty to advise a pregnant client regarding the full gamut of her reproductive rights? Who knows that under the current dispensation, it is mere guesswork regarding the true statistical data concerning abortions?

It is my hope that we will not be satisfied with the continued botched back-door abortions that often lead to complications and even death.

We are a country that loves our women and we place a premium on the office of motherhood. Should we not protect our women and mothers by doing all in our power to protect women's rights to equality and non-discrimination? Who would disagree with our country making the progressive decision to protect the right to life and the right to health? Would anyone really stand in the way of reforming the current law, so that the right to liberty and the security of the person may be truly affirmed in accordance with the values Jamaica shares within the community of nations?

Minister Hanna, you have made a timely call. Hopefully it will receive more than the often emotive responses.

It is so sad to see how archaic pieces of legislation have been used only to serve the purpose of intellectual discussions, religious quarrels, and political ball games. Meanwhile, hundreds of poverty-stricken Jamaican women suffer the indignity and threat of life-threatening procedures/practices as a result of these oppressive laws.

Even if they are going to be drilled with biblical quotations in the midst of their confusion, should they not be facilitated with a comprehensive approach in an effort to empower them with information?

Imagine with me a context in which a fellow Jamaican citizen is faced with the challenging decision of doing an abortion. She is a member of some religious community. She is ridden with guilt. However, nursing advisers, medical personnel, and her pastor all agree that she must be approached in a non-judgemental way. She is presented with the pros and cons of such a procedure. She is assured of her capacity to make her own authentic and respect-deserving decision. Wow! Pardon me here, forgot I am in Jamaica.

Parliament must move with haste to arrest the risks of maternal morbidity and mortality as a result of our unwise clutching on to these antiquated remains which have long been discarded by their masters of origin.

We have had years of talking, debating, sermonising, and politicking. What next? We need leadership! We need our political servants of the people to act in the interest of our country. Jamaica needs you, the primary protectors of human rights, to lead the way for our girls and women. Will you?

P.S.: By the way, Minister Hanna, I still loved you in the bathing suit. Next time, please ditch the T-shirt.

- Fr Sean Major-Campbell is an Anglican priest. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and seanmajorcampbell@yahoo.com.