Click here to print page

Don't let extremists hijack abortion debate

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Dear Editor,

The abortion debate in Jamaica is once again on in earnest. The debate essentially pits the Church against human rights and women rights activists. Alternatively, the battle could be described as a contest between Christian and secular beliefs.

The Church's fundamental position is that life begins at conception (ie, fertilisation of the female ovum by the male sperm) and any abortion (termination) of life is sinful and equivalent to murder.

Some Church leaders, however, are prepared to make exceptions to the general prohibition on abortion in cases of rape or incest.

Human rights activists propose legalisation of abortion to provide “women with access to safe, legal and affordable services to terminate pregnancies”, thereby preventing them from “accessing unsafe services from individuals who are not adequately trained to perform abortions”.

Women's rights activists agree with the human rights activists and contend a woman should have complete control over her body and she alone should decide if she aborts a pregnancy or carry the child to term.

I propose to examine the issue from a different perspective.

Let us go to chapter 3 of the book of Genesis, where the fall of man is recorded. In verse 16, God told Eve, “I will make your pains in child-bearing very severe; with painful labour you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

I venture to suggest that throughout history the last part of the verse, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you”, coupled with the record that it was Eve who was deceived by the serpent, has been used by men to dominate women and treat them as second-class citizens.

For most of recorded history, right up to the 20th century, women were denied basic rights afforded to men. For example, the right to an education and the right to vote.

I submit that the culture of treating women as inferior to men can be directly traced to chapter 3 of the book of Genesis and the greater responsibility attributed to Eve for the fall.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, women began organising themselves to agitate for equal treatment to men and achieved a number of successes, perhaps most notably the right to vote and access to education without restrictions.

Like most oppressed groups, once the shackles were removed; women began to excel beyond their wildest imagination.

Women have excelled to the point at which they now outnumber men in some institutions of learning to which they were once denied access.

Women are making tremendous strides in every facet of life, even in fields once dominated by men. Feminists are no longer prepared to be dictated to by men and are taking their destiny into their own hands. Women today are more empowered than they have ever been.

I submit that the demand a woman should have the right to decide what she does with her body, including the right to an abortion if she so chooses, is just an extension of the assertion of women's rights and rebellion against male domination.

Extremists in the women's rights movement are changing the narrative from equality of the sexes to one of female superiority.

The extremists will not listen to the Church, as they see the Church as the foundation upon which male domination of women was built.

I posit that to extreme feminists the abortion debate is not so much about when life begins, empathy for victims of rape or incest, or prevention of botched abortions. To them the debate is a continuation of the quest for women's rights and freedom from male domination.

The call for abortion on demand is just the latest example of how a laudable movement can be hijacked by extremists.


Wayne Plummer

Greater Portmore

St Catherine