Wed | Mar 3, 2021

Xinyu Addae-Lee | Before ‘legalising’ abortion, can we normalise pregnancy and regularise adoption

Published:Sunday | February 7, 2021 | 12:22 AM
Dr Xinyu Addae-Lee
Dr Xinyu Addae-Lee

On Sunday, January 31, an article in The Gleaner by Corey Robinson titled ‘Millions for illegal abortions’ was published. This indicated the financial burden the country suffers due to the complications that arise from unsafe abortions, amounting to US$1.4 million each year. This was referred to as a burden on the State, however, it is no burden the fact that “22,000 pregnancies are aborted annually in Jamaica”. This is what burdens my heart, my mind, and my soul! Twenty-two thousand unique individuals never get the chance to express the fullness of who they are, never get the chance to breathe, to contribute to our society, and to bless this world with their existence. This is the true burden, not the US$1.4 million spent to care for those that suffer complications from abortions.

Are we not burdened to act to decrease this number. Do we not want to see every one of these individuals be given a chance to live? Is your burden to support the natural process of procreation or the intentional act of ending a life?

PROVIDING ALTERNATIVES

Furthermore, the public system is overburdened as persons with significant issues wait on their surgeries for sometimes two or three years or more? Would the public system not benefit from not having to do upwards of 450 abortions per week? Should we aim to increase this number by “legalising” and improving access, or should we aim to decrease this burden by providing alternatives? The fact is that if we use our time, energy, and resources to decrease abortions, we would then decrease the cost of dealing with the complications of those abortions.

What can we do to decrease abortions? Well, according to the article, “Among those seeking abortion in the underworld are many teenagers and young adults dogged by concerns about poverty, the disruptions of education or employment, the desire to provide for existing children, and cases where expectant mother are confused with no support from their unborn child’s father. Still, others are seeking abortions because of family preferences.”

These concerns about disruptions of education and employment are quite valid, but is the solution to provide an abortion for these mothers? Can we not address this issue by making it illegal for a school to expel young women because they are pregnant? Or for us to enforce strictly the laws regarding maternity leave, and where a mother is not eligible for maternity leave, to provide a grant for the antenatal period?

How can we address concerns regarding poverty and not be able to provide for existing children? Is abortion really the solution to this, or, perhaps, can adoption be the real solution? We have a waiting list of thousands of adults in Jamaica who have been approved by the adoption board as potential adoptive parents. If we were to put our efforts behind regularising the process, increasing the access to information, and making the system more friendly towards all parties, we could make this option more appealing for these mothers. As it is now, the option is not appealing to the adoptive parents or the genetic parents. With the privatisation of adoption, we can change this.

Finally, the issue regarding feeling confused and not having support from the father of the child is certainly not solved with abortion. This is a social issue that needs to be addressed by educating and empowering these individuals.

One reason that pro-abortionists always tout is that the woman should not have to put her body through the changes, etc, because it is their body, and so on and so forth. However, I find it most remarkable that this did not come out as a reason for abortion in the research that was conducted. Does this, therefore, dispel that as a reason to push for the legalisation of abortion and support the argument for the normalisation of pregnancy and adoption?

Hypocrisy of the Church

Frankly, I am tired of hearing “the Church” offering itself as a solution to the issue when historically, it has been the main force behind the stigma of women who get pregnant out of wedlock. You do not have to search far to hear of stories where women are banned from churches, taken off committees and worship teams, or made to sit in the back because they got pregnant. The Church cannot in one breath assert itself as against abortion and then, on the other hand, be shunning women from the church when they become pregnant.

Whichever minister is against abortion should speak up and condemn the churches that do have a role in making these women feel like they should hide, and, yes, seek secret, illegal, and unsafe abortions in order to avoid the stigma that is assigned to them for life!

I am completely in agreement with having ministers of the church provide guidance and support to these women, but without confronting their role in causing the problem, it is a bit hypocritical at this point.

Both arguments are valid, but where should we stand?

I stood on the other side of this argument for most of my life, defending the right to the autonomy over my body and elevating that right over any right of that unique individual to be given the chance to live if it were at the cost of my sacrifice. It is a legitimate argument, but it is a selfish argument. This type of reasoning can support arguments for mass genocide, to prevent pollution or food poverty. It can support racism, classism, and every ism. We only have to tell ourselves that we matter more for whatever reason, and we can find ourselves down the rabbit hole.

I, myself, was to be aborted. My mother has told me more than once that she wanted to abort me because just like the women in the study, she wanted to have at least one child that was not raised in poverty. She wanted to have a child that she could enjoy and not worry about feeding. My father begged for me. She relented, and I became “that child”. I did not grow up in poverty, and my mother provided for me more than I could ever ask. Not only did she provide for me, she adopted two sons after me and has done the same for them.

Should we invest our time, energy, and resources to provide abortions for women who are confused, poor, and lack support? Or do we invest in providing clarity, resources, and support to these women so that like me, the unborn child can exist and perhaps one day make their mother proud?

- Dr Xinyu Addae-Lee is a medical doctor and attorney-at-law. She practises in both areas and is passionate about advocating for the adoption process to be more transparent, efficient, and family-focused. Send feedback to law.x.jm@gmail.com.