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J'cans not willing to admit to abortions - Abrahams

Published:Wednesday | May 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter
Michael Abrahams

Fewer than 50 per cent of Jamaicans have said that they know someone who has done an illegal abortion. However, one of the island's leading gynaecologists, Dr Michael Abrahams, is not convinced that that number is accurate.

"It is quite likely that close to 100 per cent (of Jamaicans) know somebody who has had one [an abortion]. But the persons who had the abortion haven't disclosed it because many don't like to talk about it," said Abrahams in reacting to the latest findings of an islandwide poll conducted by Johnson Survey Research Limited.

The poll found that 34 per cent of men and 42 per cent of women said that they knew someone who had had an abortion, with 12 per cent of the men and 16 per cent of the women saying that they knew how much was paid for each abortion. The average price reported for an abortion was $20,000.

But Abrahams disclosed that Cytotec, a medication designed for gastric problems, was being sold locally on the black market and was being used illegally to do abortions.

This is complemented by antibiotics. Abrahams said that this was a worrying trend because of the complications that could arise.

"These patients will go home and insert the tablets. Many of them will bleed, and when they bleed, they think the pregnancy has gone, and they continue living their life until they end up at my office three or four months' pregnant, realising that the baby was still inside," Abrahams related.

Under local laws, any attempt at terminating a pregnancy could result in life imprisonment, but abortion is allowed if the mother's life is in danger.

Last year, The Sunday Gleaner reported that between January and September, 91 of the 1,088 expectant mothers who visited the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston with bleeding during early pregnancy admitted that they had tried to abort the foetus.

That is worrisome for Abrahams, who has urged Jamaicans opposed to abortion to put women's health first.

"What these people can do instead of being so anti-abortion is to try being more pro-contraception. Focus on that. Put your money into that and your energy into that," he argued.

The latest Johnson survey was conducted between April 27 and 29 among 1,000 Jamaicans between the ages of 15 and 49, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent.