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Thwaites gives summer deadline as abortion pushback continues

Published:Thursday | March 28, 2019 | 12:40 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

West Rural St Andrew Member of Parliament (MP) Juliet Cuthbert Flynn faced the heat yesterday as a team of medical and legal experts made their contribution to the debate on a motion she moved to have the Government to decriminalise abortion and provide women with safe and affordable methods to terminate pregnancy.

During his contribution at a sitting of Parliament’s Human Resource and Social Development Committee at Gordon House yesterday, anti-abortion campaigner Dr Wayne West chided Cuthbert Flynn for her support of the Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group’s (APRAG) recommendations, which promote unrestricted abortion.

After presenting two graphic videos demonstrating the abortion process, West said, “I heard the member (Cuthbert Flynn) on radio, during her presentation in Parliament (on October 9, 2018), and she asked that the APRAG recommendations be brought back to consideration.

“It is clear from this ideological position that the value of an unborn child is not a consideration for the third-wave feminist’s view on abortion, which states that a powerful woman has the right to determine the value of an unborn child and whether that child should live. This is similar to what obtained in ancient pagan Rome, where a father had the right to kill his child. I suppose third-wave feminists are seeking to recreate that approach to life, except to put it in the hands of the mother.”

West highlighted a few of the recommendations: “In relation to law, abortion should be decriminalised. In relation to health services, all restrictions on the age of the mother for requirements for parental or spousal consent should be removed. The requirement of multiple-doctor approval before an abortion should be removed and so should counselling and all religious-based restrictions”.

He accused Cuthbert Flynn of recommending that medical personnel be subjected to a $250,000 fine or three months in prison for refusing to refer a pregnant woman “to another person who does an abortion”.

Jumping to defend herself, Cuthbert Flynn declared that she did not recall saying so and demanded a retraction.

Insisting that there would be no retraction, West said that although the MP didn’t explicitly say so, she extended support for the APRAG recommendations to be brought back.

Committee Chairman Ronald Thwaites then stepped in to cool down the situation.

Before West’s presentation, Dr Sheree Simpson made clear her disapproval of abortion, reading a petition signed by 45 doctors: “It is a scientific fact that human life begins at conception. We subscribe to the World Medical Association Declaration of Geneva 1948, which states: ‘I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the moment of conception. Even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity. The proposed (pro-abortion) bill attempts to make lawful the killing of a human being under a wide range of deliberately vague conditions.”

She also highlighted many instances of girls and women, who, after avoiding abortion, saw their children grow up to be good citizens or even to become the first in a family to attend university.

They found support in attorney-at-law Maurice Saunders, who was straightforward with his pro-life view that abortion is “murder”.

Chairman Thwaites announced that all other arguments to be put forward by other individuals and groups should be done by the summer so that a final determination could be made.