Letters to the Editor

Hold referendum on abortion

Friday, February 08, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Do accept congratulations on a well-written editorial on January 31, 2019 which sought to examine the various tenets of the abortion debate. The editorial stated: “The realists among us have always known that this is one issue that will continue to divide us till the end of time. Therefore, any decision about making abortion legal or illegal should only be taken by the nation, as a family, and not by any one section of it, including Government. In other words, only a referendum can provide an adequate indication of how the Jamaican family feels about abortion and only in a general sense.”

The editorial gave voice to what a large number of Jamaicans have been saying: Give us an opportunity to share our views on abortion through a referendum.

Our esteemed local politicians keep saying that abortions should be legalised in Jamaica because of pregnancies arising from rape and incest. We have limited statistics on the reasons abortion are done in Jamaica; however, we can examine the statistics from the USA. In 1987, a study showed that one per cent of all abortions was due to rape and incest. In 2015, according to Focus on the Family, 1.5 per cent of abortions in the USA were obtained due to rape and incest. Focus on the Family got this information from Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood.

Can we take our local politicians at their word or are they simply using an emotional argument to further a much broader and radical agenda?

In many countries when abortion had been legalised the policymakers told the general populace that abortion would be limited to the first trimester; however, over time, the goalpost has seen tremendous shifts. Will this also be the case in Jamaica? When we thought that the politicians in New York had reached a new level in the heights of pro-abortion policy (they passed the law allowing for third-trimester abortion) here came the politicians from the state of Virginia shouting, “Hold my drink!” Politicians in that state legislature were not only debating a Bill similar to New York, but a female lawmaker opined that an abortion can be done while the mother was dilating. The governor of Virginia (of black face and moonwalking fame), not to be outdone, stated that the abortion can be done after a baby was born. The verbalising of this view sent shock waves through the state. The governor was stating that if a baby was born “severely deformed” then that child should be kept “comfortable” until a decision on life and death could be made by the mother and doctor. Until this statement was made not many people were familiar with the term “post-birth abortion”. This is obviously a fancy term for infanticide. Even individuals who support abortion have had to acknowledge that this assertion has gone a step too far. Who determines who is too deformed to live? A child born blind or deaf could be starved to death under this policy. What about children born without specific limbs? Nick Vujicic, a 36-year-old motivational speaker and president of Attitude is Altitude and Life without Limbs, was born without arms or legs. He has spoken to millions and travelled all over the world encouraging others to realise their full potential. Should his parents have engaged in post-birth abortion as being espoused by the governor of Virginia? We should not think it is far-fetched for such an extreme and radical agenda to reach the shores of Jamaica.

The Government of Jamaica should heed the sound advice of the Jamaica Observer and let the people of Jamaica decide this very important matter through a referendum.

Marsha Thomas

marshburns@hotmail.com


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