Thu | Jun 4, 2020

Gleaner Editors' Forum | Death, danger to women influenced abortion resolution - Cuthbert-Flynn

Published:Tuesday | July 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn

When Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew West Rural Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn asked the House of Representatives to make it easier for women to have safe and secure abortions, it was not to allow for frivolous decisions about life and death.

Instead, it was made after careful consideration and reflection on horror stories about botched abortions that left lasting grief and pain.

"There was a death in my constituency from a botched abortion, and that, I guess, brought everything home from the discussions the years before and from the death," Cuthbert-Flynn explained during a Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday.

"I felt a stronger need to really advocate for sections 72 and 73 of the Offences Against the Person Act to be repealed through Parliament," she added.

She insisted at the forum that it was the woman's right to choose, and the circumstances leading many to such choice did not make women murderers.

Jamaican law criminalises any attempt at an abortion. Therefore, women who attempt to terminate a pregnancy face the possibility of life in prison. Anyone who assists in the process can be imprisoned for up to three years.

In moving the resolution in Parliament Cuthbert-Flynn said that Government had an obligation to provide women with access to safe and affordable options for the termination of pregnancies.

Cuthbert-Flynn said that following the death, many constituents told her stories of individuals trying to have an abortion, and among them were those considered most vulnerable. She said that it was foolish to believe that abortions were not happening on a wider scale than reported, as in many instances girls and women of middle and uptown Jamaica were not among those captured in numbers presented.

"It is really touching when I listened to some of the stories. There is another constituent who is now handicapped because of a botched abortion. I know of persons who had to terminate a pregnancy because of illness where their life was in jeopardy. And so it is very important for me to have the debate," she reasoned.

Cuthbert-Flynn wants the House to consider the Abortion Policy Review Group, which suggested that the issue of abortion should be dealt with under civil, instead of criminal, law.