Thu | Apr 2, 2020

Abortion is not about religion

Published:Wednesday | February 20, 2019 | 12:25 AM


For Peter Espeut, contrary to his claim, and for many church people, abortion is very much a religious issue. Their position is clearly based on their belief that God infuses a soul into the human entity formed at conception. For them, this is a matter of faith, not of rational argument. It must be so, they declare, because otherwise – I assume this is their thinking – how could what is conceived be human?

However, for many other members of society, both non-believers and believers, a position against banning abortion is not a matter of religious faith (even if as for the religious group, faith-based concerns for human well-being is a motivating factor). It is based on other grounds.

They gather from medical science the essential facts on the gradual ‘becoming’ of a human person in a woman’s womb. This offers them, in their view, sufficient grounds on which to reach a reasonable and ethically robust ­conclusion on a timetable for abortion.



This must also be the stance of the State. The State should not allow itself to be coaxed from its secular character by pressure from religious groups. Given the historical impact, however, of the Christian Church on Jamaica, this is more easily urged than done. The very fact that the parliamentary committee considering the abortion issue is being chaired by a deacon of the Roman Catholic Church (whose anti-abortionist nuns flocked the gallery at the first hearing) makes the point.


Deacon Espeut’s reply ( The Gleaner, January 2, 2019) to my letter (January 31, 2019) reveals a failure to understand something very fundamental in the human make-up: the interactive and complementary relationship between spirit and body, the one ‘informing’ the other, the second ‘shaping’ the first, the development of each matching that of the other (rather than as two ‘compact’ entities, like a light bulb in a box, clothes in a suitcase). It is this failure that fuels the need to have God ‘insert’ a soul at a human conception.


It is under-layered by another deeper failure: to grasp how (and to accept that) humans evolved from lower forms of life.


Which wasn’t by God inserting souls along the way, which would entirely miss the extraordinary creativity of the process.


Peter should read Roman Catholic Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin on the evolution of everything on this planet culminating in humankind and its openness to a beyond.