Fri | May 24, 2019

Letter of the Day | Jamaica is not a theocracy

Published:Monday | March 4, 2019 | 12:11 AM

The EDITOR, Sir:

The Church continues to be the loudest voice on the topic of abortion while continuously missing the mark. Jamaica is not a theocracy. We cannot shape our laws around what the Catholic Church believes to be true. We need research, data, statistics and facts to shape our legislation.

The research, data, statistics and facts show that maternal mortality is decreased when women can choose to terminate a pregnancy. They prove that women who can make informed choices, with all options accessible, are better able to raise families when and if they decide to do so. They also prove that societies thrive when women truly have reproductive rights.

The anti-choice narrative, where abortion is concerned, takes away from the sanctity of human rights and paints women’s needs in a fickle light. The fact is, women want abortions. Women in Jamaica have been accessing abortions for centuries.

Our ancestors, as an act of resistance or otherwise, had several different means of terminating pregnancies. Today, the women of Jamaica do, too. The concern, however, is that women cannot get them done safely. Women in Jamaica have to put themselves at extreme risks to terminate unwanted pregnancies, because the laws continue to police their reproductive rights.

The people who suffer most as a result of restrictive abortion laws are poor and young women. They are the women who end up in the hospital because of botched abortions. Women who can afford to go to their doctors and have a safe operation do so with ease.

The reality for women from poorer socio-economic backgrounds is much more dangerous. Their abortions are oftentimes unsafe and met with serious consequences. Safe abortions save lives. This is the fundamental difference in women’s realities, and the fundamental reason it is necessary that restrictive abortion laws are addressed.

The Catholic Church would like to have Jamaica believe that abortions are a new threat to the church and that it must be met with complete denunciation. Women’s rights have historically not been the church’s concern. In fact, women are constantly met with violence and disrespect at the hands of the church. It is no surprise that they still wish to exert control and power over the choices that women make over their own bodies.

The church can have its beliefs and hold them in higher regard than any other opinion. What the church should not be allowed to do, however, is impose its beliefs on the entire country. If you do not support abortions, you simply shouldn’t have them.

Women’s rights should not be denied to please the church any more.

TAJNA-LEE SHIELDS

tajnalee@gmail.com