Wed | Aug 21, 2019

Failed abortion brings family back together, says lobbyist

Published:Thursday | February 28, 2019 | 12:18 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

A local charity group seeking to convince lawmakers to maintain the ban on abortion yesterday cited the story of an inner-city woman who tried three times to terminate her pregnancy without telling her spouse.

In appealing to sentiment about destiny, the tale she recounted covered familiar ground – but with a twist – in the controversial and sometimes bitter debate over the termination of pregnancies that has been a tug of war mainly between religious conservativism on one side and gender-rights liberalism on the other.

Asha-lee Spaulding, from the Holy Innocents Crisis Centre, run by Sisters of the Poor, said that the abortion did not happen because the woman could not afford to pay for it “and home remedies” did not work.

As a result, Spaulding said that the woman visited the charity’s Heroes Circle offices in central Kingston and made it clear that she “just want to deliver the baby and then leave”.

“While the mother was doing this, the father did not know anything, not even her whereabouts,” she said yesterday in her submission to the Human Resources and Social Development Committee of Parliament.

The committee is examining a motion moved by Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, member of parliament for West Rural St Andrew, that seeks to legalise abortions in Jamaica.

“She did not want anything to do with the baby,” Spaulding said of the mother during her presentation.

Spaulding said during her presentation the young woman, true to her word, gave birth to a boy then left him with the Sisters of the Poor.

“That baby stayed with us for one and a half years … beautiful baby boy. Everybody who [sic] see us carrying that baby wanted that baby,” she said.

Father claimed child

Spaulding said that the father subsequently found out that the child was at Sisters of the Poor “and came seeking the child”. She said that the charity group took the case to the Family Court and a DNA test confirmed that he was the father. “And finally, the child went to his father,” she said.

“Now, the mother who did not want the child and the father who did not want the mother to have an abortion … they are together today. They are happily married with child,” said Spaulding.

She said that that was just one of the many cases of unplanned pregnancies handled by Sisters of the Poor, which is aligned to Missionaries of the Poor, the Catholic charity founded by Father Richard Ho Lung.

“There are good stories, bad and horrific stories. We have mothers who come to us insisting that they don’t want their child or mothers who say, ‘Sister, the child stay over there and I stay over here … . I don’t want to see the child,” Spaulding said.

“And then many of them hearts turn. They leave the home with baby in hand after much love, gentleness, and counselling,” she added, urging lawmakers to leave the ban on abortion in place.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com