Thu | May 23, 2019

Devon Dick | Put brakes on abortion

Published:Thursday | November 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Shirley Richards

Not so fast with abortion, until it is determined when life begins, the effect of abortion on a mother, the case for a rape victim to abort a pregnancy; and what to do with a foetus with lethal abnormality.

Abortion, that is, the deliberate and medical termination of a pregnancy, as opposed to natural abortion by miscarriage, is a complex issue. Complex because it revolves around the issue of when human life begins. Does it begin when there is a zygote or an embryo or a foetus or when the foetus is viable outside of the womb? Furthermore, one is not sure when a foetus is viable because five-month-old foetuses have survived. In addition, no one would argue for abortion at eight months, because it is seen as a life.

The foetus has distinct features which can be different from the mother's, including blood type. Additionally, even though it is clear that at certain stages a foetus could not survive, it ought to be seen as more that an inanimate thing.

Humans are made in the image of God and have certain rights and privileges, including the right to life. Human life is special, sacred, and is on a higher level than plant life or animal life.




There are pacifists who are against war because human life is so special that under no circumstance should human life be violated. It is a similar argument used by persons who oppose or support capital punishment. Human life is so special that no one should deprive another of life. There is the opposing view that life is so sacrosanct that if you take another life then the only adequate and equal punishment would be to forfeit the right to life. The abortion debate ought to be framed concerning the uniqueness and specialness of life.

Additionally, most times when a lady considers abortion it is because of economic circumstances, or it will interfere with societal advancement, or the contraceptive failed, or it was a result of one night casual sex. The society needs to ensure that pregnant teenagers are allowed to complete their course of study without shame and discrimination, just as the father. As for economic reasons, the government should provide the necessary financial support for parents who cannot afford a child. Childbearing should never be for the rich only. Persons who are poor ought to be given the financial support to have even one child.

Those who are rushing to support abortion on demand are perhaps minimising the psychological effects on women who have abortions. There are many with serious regrets and who develop psychological problems.




In Jamaica, abortions are legal if the mother's health and life are at risk. But what of a foetus that has lethal abnormality such as one nose and will die within a few days, or has half of a head and, at best, will die within a week? Since ultrasound is available and, can identify these terminal conditions before delivery, should an abortion take place?

And since abortions have risks to the females, then it should not be entered upon lightly or unadvisedly. What needs to be tweaked is to allow for abortion when a female is raped, or carnally abused, and her health and well-being are at risk and she desires an abortion.

There is a five- day window of opportunity before fertilisation, and so rape victims should be taken to a doctor to get emergency contraception, and not wait until implantation, when an abortion would be deemed necessary. An additional benefit of reporting rape early is that the victim can start treatment to prevent STIs including HIV. These measures would help rape victims from having to contemplate abortion.

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