Tue | Sep 17, 2019

Gleaner Editors' Forum | Is abortion taking a life or not?

Published:Wednesday | July 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Nadeen Spence
Deacon Peter Espeut

The discussion on whether a foetus should be regarded as a human being was yesterday met with fiery responses by Gleaner Editors' Forum panellists for and against the act of abortion, with one side citing science and the other pointing to a lack of universal acceptance.

Social commentator Nadeen Spence argued that while pro-lifers (persons opposed to abortion) believe that a foetus is human life at the moment of conception, she does not hold that view. She stated further that women should be able to choose safe abortion methods.

Furthermore, Ivan Cruickshank, executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, argued that safe abortions should be legal for women so that they may choose to end a pregnancy within the first twenty-two weeks.

"We agree with the perspective put forward by those who have done significant work around the policy review team that suggested 22 weeks as the maximum period for which we do the abortion process, and that's where we stand. We support those who have done the work," Crucikshank said.

However, anti-abortion panellists swiftly objected, arguing that the act was the same as murder.

"There are people who don't agree that the foetus is human and I accept that. But does it mean that the foetus, is not human?" questioned Peter Espeut, a Catholic deacon.

He continued: "When I was studying zoology, we learnt that the way to identify a species is to look at the nucleolus under the microscope and count the number of chromosomes, and in doing so, you can differentiate between dog, puss, human, whatever.

"Now, it is accepted that a human has 46 chromosomes, and so one single human cell is enough to identify it as being human; and to say that what is in the womb is not human - people can say that - but that doesn't make it true."

Pro-lifer Shirley Richards, a member of the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, referred to a study done by renowned molecular biologist Dr David Mark, who stated that when the embryo is two days old, growth and development are controlled by the early stage of development and not the maternal DNA.

Richards also pointed out that having an abortion was unfair to the unborn child and that when speaking about who it affects, society should not disregard the child, who will never be given a chance at life outside the womb.

- Sasha-Kaye Kemble