Safe abortions save lives

Letters to the Editor

Safe abortions save lives

Monday, February 22, 2021

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Dear Editor,

As a big sister, growing up, my dream was always to give my family, particularly my siblings, a better chance at navigating life than I had. I had gone before them, which meant I got to see the world, understand it, so I could guide them in making informed decisions.

My younger sisters and I have always had great relationships. I made it my priority to ensure they knew I was a safe space for difficult conversations and anything else that came up in life.

One day at work I received a worrying text message. It was my youngest sister, who was 20, telling me she was in trouble and needed my help urgently. Without hesitation, I called her to find out what was wrong. She was in tears and could barely speak in full sentences as she explained she was pregnant and didn't know what to do.

As much as I wanted to express my disappointment, I knew it wasn't the time and now, more than ever, I needed to be her safe space. I immediately tried to calm her down and asked, “What do you want to do?” Immediately, she replied, “Sis, I can't keep it, and I don't know what to do.” My sister wasn't 'careless' or anything, but she got pregnant. All of her achievements flashed through my mind. I remembered everything — her primary school graduation; all the certificates from high school, sixth form; and, most importantly, her university education that was now at stake.

My eyes filled with tears as I remembered all the girls I knew who were in this same situation but did not have the access to make an informed decision, or even just to talk through their options.

I called a friend to ask for recommendations to do an abortion because I had accompanied a friend when I was at university to have one done and she bled for six months and had to be admitted in hospital.

A doctor was recommended and I was able to make an appointment two days later. On the day of the appointment I went with her and the doctor asked us some questions, did a thorough check-up, and made some recommendations.

She agreed to go through with the procedure after all her questions and concerns had been addressed. I could tell she felt more confident with her decision. The procedure took about two hours and cost a total of $80,000 and she was able to move about after everything. She had a post-procedure check-up and everything was okay.

Sadly, many women, like my friend in university, can't afford this channel and make do with unqualified and inexperienced people, who often put their lives at risk.

It's been almost a year now, and I still check in with her to make sure she wasn't experiencing any emotional distress, and she is as happy as she always was.

Now, in a permanent job, and having started her own business, I sometimes wonder if she didn't go through with the abortion how different her life would have been. To not be able to make a decision, even when you know you are not capable of bringing a child into this world, that is not the life I want for my sister or any other woman in Jamaica.

My sister had me; someone she trusted and could come to. That is what our women and girls deserve.

I also used the opportunity to teach my brothers about the importance of consent, using a condom, and giving women the option to choose as well as helping them with other forms of contraception.

Legalising abortions allows women to be better able to make their own decisions on how to navigate their lives on their terms.

Giving women access to legal and safe abortions is giving women access to new opportunities and self-independence.

A big sister

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