St James residents against abortion
Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
Members of the head table at the abortion forum held at the Montego Bay Civic Centre in Sam Sharpe Square last Wednesday. They are (from left) Taitu Heron, women's rights activist and representative of Development Alternatives for Women of a New Era (DAWN)'s Caribbean chapter; Floyd Green, the forum's moderator; Shirley Richards, vice-president of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship; Dr Evan Nepaul, a department head from the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital; Christina Milford, representative of the Pregnancy Resource Centre of Jamaica. - Photo by Christopher Thomas
St James residents who turned out at a forum last Wednesday took a near-unanimous stance against the legalisation of abortion in Jamaica.
The forum, hosted at the Montego Bay Civic Centre, was organised by a joint select committee of Parliament, which was set up to consider the final report of the Ministry of Health's Jamaica Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group.
"We've been on (the abortion policy) since 1975, and hopefully this committee will make some final recommendations," Health Minister Rudyard Spencer said in a brief address.
Representatives from various organisations made presentations on abortion, which in some cases were accompanied by graphic illustrations and statistics.
Residents subsequently directed questions, comments and recommen-dations to the panel.
At one point during the forum's feedback segment, emotions ran high, as the anti-abortion supporters in the audience made their views known.
The prevailing view voiced by that group was "Abortion is murder!" accompanied by thunderous applause.
"Why don't we allow gunmen the right to choose who to kill?" one resident queried, in making comparisons to giving pregnant women the right to abort unwanted foetuses.
"It's essentially the same thing."
The forum was the first of three intended to discuss the legalisation of abortion in Jamaica, and to get the views of the public on the issue.
There will be a forum today in St Thomas and another in Clarendon on February 3.
"The bulk of our work (on the policy) begins when the consultation ends ... . I hope we can finish for this administrative year," Spencer told reporters.