Last Wednesday there was a news report of a doctor and the mother of a pregnant 12-year-old facing the courts.
It seems the mother sought the help of the doctor to terminate the pregnancy.
Many years ago, I rescued a young girl from a bus stop in east Kingston late one night. She had left Jubilee Hospital with a newborn infant hours earlier. But her mother explained that as a respected member of her church, she would seriously compromise her Christian values if she were to accommodate an adulterous woman and a child "born in sin". Who is the better mother?
Deaths from complications from early pregnancies account for an estimated 70,000 worldwide each year. The maternal mortality rate is often five times higher for girls between the ages of 10-14 than for a 20-year-old. Risks of medical complications are greater for girls this age as an undeveloped pelvis can lead to difficulties in childbirth. Obstructed labour can lead to eclampsia, obstetric fistula, infant mortality and maternal death.
Socially, there is nearly always deprivation and lack of support. Most of these young mothers will be seeking social assistance at least during the first five years of the baby's life. A new cycle of poverty starts here as most never return to school. A study of 100 teenage mothers in the UK - a highly developed country - found that only 11 per cent received a salary. Teenagers who are pregnant or who are mothers are seven times more likely to commit suicide than other teenagers.
The baby's psychosocial development is certain to be affected. They are more likely to be born prematurely with low birth weight, predisposing them to many other lifelong conditions.
There are often intellectual, language and socio-emotional problems. How can a 12-year-old be sensitive and accepting towards a baby's needs? I have found that these young mothers frequently show anger towards the child and rely heavily on punishment leading to the inevitable behavioural problems later on.
I have, on occasions, looked at the laws that govern our lives and am stunned at the number that are just downwright impractical and oppressive. Who is going to do something?