Tue | Jun 22, 2021

It's eggs or young ones

Published:Sunday | June 3, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Daniel Thwaites, Contributor

As a rule, I'm not particularly big on 'modernisation' for its own sake. However, The Sunday Gleaner's recent informative and frightening investigative report that women are being prescribed Cytotec (Misoprostol) by non-doctors should concern everyone. Only fundamentalists who believe abortion is always and everywhere morally wrong and should be completely legally prohibited won't see that this is an alarm for change.

I learned from the same article that a Ministry of Health-commissioned team has studied the issue and recommended that the current laws be amended so that the conditions under which an abortion can be legally performed will be spelled out.As it is, there appears to be a thriving underground industry. This requires immediate attention. What could the Ministry of Health possibly be waiting on? And if the hold-up isn't there, where is it?

The article didn't give statistics on the prevalence of abortions among Jamaican teenagers, and single and married adult women. I wonder if there are even accurate statistics available. They are certainly important things to know.

We also learned this past week that the Hugh Wynter Fertility Management Unit at the University Hospital of the West Indies is expanding and doing well. So while some people are trying to rid themselves of pregnancies, other people are prepared to pay big bucks to get pregnant. It's the way of the world. One person has and doesn't want what another person doesn't have and does want badly. Want i' want i' cyaan get i'.

Actually, Jamaica has the reputation as a place where it's easy for couples to get pregnant. I'm sure there's tourism potential in it. Maybe it's something in the water. Who knows? I've moonlighted as a fertility expert by advising everyone I hear talking about having trouble getting pregnant to head to Jamaica.

People in America are so stressed out they're having difficulty reproducing. If it weren't for immigrants, America would be like Europe, with a declining population. Anyway, my observation is that if a moderately good-looking American woman visits Jamaica, barring catastrophic and irreversible biological incapacity, she will return home pregnant. It probably is something in the water.

A few weeks ago, The New York Times published a hair-raising story about how ageing parents, hopeful but despairing for grandchildren, are paying for their adult daughters to freeze their eggs. The idea is that the eggs of a 30-year-old woman still chasing her education and career dreams should be preserved for later.

The trouble, of course, is that the biologically optimal time to have children is now a few decades before the socially optimal time. Or put another way, when the woman's body can manage it, her pocket cannot, and vice versa. Well, science is trying to ride to the rescue by harvesting the eggs of the young scholars and businesswomen.

Many people, including me, are squeamish about the abortions and egg-freezing and anything that smacks of mankind grossly manipulating the 'natural' order of things. On the other hand, we human beings have been doing just that, at least for as long as recorded history. It's just that we've become exponentially more powerful with our science.

Obama Uncloseted

Last US election, if Jamaicans had been permitted to vote, almost everyone - certainly everyone I know - would have voted for Barack Obama. Well, to be perfectly honest, I did come across two people who seemed disturbed that an African-American could become president. But they were a minority of two.

This reflexive endorsement of the Democrats strikes me as odd simply because no policymaker with a Democrat's take on the issues could survive for a moment in Jamaica. So I wonder if we actually listen to what they're saying, or if it's just that we have a completely different standard of what to expect from a foreign political system.

Imagine two political parties in Jamaica, one of which preached God, Christian morality and unabashed national pride. Throw in promises to cut taxes and shave away bureaucracy into the policy mix. On the other hand, there's another party that preaches raising taxes, unhindered gay marriage, abortion on demand, and tighter environmental regulations. You get my point.

True: the Democrats are associated with larger and more generous social programmes - and we love those, particularly if someone else is paying. But overall, I think the God and flag party would win out overwhelmingly.

Why then the love affair with the Democratic Party in the USA? I think it has to do with a sense that racial politics is still very much at play in the alignment of groups with the party system in America. That, on top of our welfare love, makes the vast majority of Jamaicans I come across very Democratic-leaning.

And that's why, I think, people feel the urge to excuse Mr Obama even as he emerges from the closet as the most influential member of the 'gay lobby' that we always hear about. Make no mistake about it, that's what Mr Obama is. Marriage laws are controlled by the various states in the US federal system, so Mr Obama's intervention wasn't so much a policy announcement so much as a lobbying effort. Obama isn't bowing to the gay lobby. He's its most influential member. Ever.

So now the Tea Party people and their new-found Jamaican close cousins have another reason to hate Barack Hussein Obama bin Laden. Now he's definitely - all at once - a Muslim, a socialist, a Nazi, a black radical, and a gay-friendly Kenyan freak.

Personally, I liked Obama's position more before he "evolved". To my mind, gays should suffer no impediment to their ability to bind themselves to another, to contract, and all the rest that a civil arrangement could achieve. But I don't like the stridency that insists that the language of marriage be afforded to their relationships. With the abortions, egg-freezing for future omelettes, and all the other madness of modernity, for me, marriage is a religious institution that begins and ends with a boy and a girl.

Daniel Thwaites is a partner of Thwaites, Lundgren & D'Arcy in Westchester and Bronx counties in New York. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.