Decriminalising abortions create safe space

Decriminalising abortions create safe space

Monday, February 15, 2021

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Dear Editor,

Internationally, the dialogue around the legalisation of abortion centred on the high death rates from sourcing illegal abortion services and whether women should have access to safe and legal abortion to mitigate this.

However, in Jamaica, the conversation has been simplified to centre Christian underpinnings of the procedure and the condemnation of souls. This limited scope in the approach by many clergy to abortion continues to put women and children at risk and threatens the progress of the nation.

Instead, the conversation around the decriminalisation of abortions in Jamaica should focus on whether the State should have a say on the grounds on which a woman can access an abortion.

We glorify that “it takes a village to raise a child” without acknowledging that when the high cost of childcare and personal effort required to care for a child falls on unequipped parents. They then need the assistance of other parties.

Additionally, while our social services system provides financial assistance and parenting classes, we must acknowledge the funding is not sufficient and parenting is an evolving learning experience. Within our society, women and children experience various forms of violence, lack of access to education, poor diet and nutrition, and lack of safety and security. If we offer the opportunity to choose when people have children we lessen the number of individuals who are forced to experience these conditions.

By decriminalising abortions we introduce into our public health care system a framework that acknowledges women's input into their reproductive and health rights. Jamaica's family planning curriculum needs to include abortion as a valid option for those who require it, as well as include conversations around a child-free lifestyle. By giving individuals a choice we allow them the chance to explore all the options available and choose which best suits them. Through this we facilitate the emergence of a safe and equitable society for all, a true democracy validating each individual's right to choose.

In order for Jamaica to be the ideal place for women to work, grow families and build, we need and deserve the opportunity to choose when we embark on the parenting journey. Therefore, access to safe, legal, free abortions provided at public health facilities that also include counselling pre- and post-abortion ensures that women are given adequate information, support, and the best medical service to participate as citizens towards a better Jamaica.

WE-Change Jamaica,

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