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Cuthbert Flynn urges Parliament to legalise abortion

Friday, October 12, 2018

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GOVERNMENT Member of Parliament for West Rural St Andrew Juliet Cuthbert Flynn wants the Administration to repeal legislation that makes abortion illegal.

Cuthbert Flynn, a former Olympic-level athlete, wants the House of Representatives to take steps to repeal sections 72 and 73 of the Offences Against the Persons Act, which makes abortion illegal and substitute it with a civil law, “The Termination of Pregnancy Act”, as was recommended by the Abortion Policy Review Group in 2007.

“The Parliament has a duty to take a stand. I have a duty to take a stand, not on either side of the debate, but a stand about protecting the lives of women, particularly poor women, regardless of public opinion about the value of their lives,” she told the House, as she opened the debate on her motion on Tuesday.

Cuthbert Flynn noted that in 2018, she lost a constituent, whom she described as “a young woman in her late 20s”, who died from complications from a botched abortion.

“She was vibrant, full of life and very smart, and I am saddened by what happened. Her death was avoidable and it haunts me to this day,” the MP said.

“I felt I have a personal responsibility, as a lawmaker, to do something,” she stated.

She said that the illegality of abortion has not in any way prevented women from procuring it from qualified or unqualified medical professionals, or attempting to do it on their own.

“We know of cases, we hear about these cases, from time to time, and it is not just persons from a certain background who are getting abortions done,” she told the House.

She said that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 22,000 Jamaicans, aged 16-44, terminate their pregnancies every year.

“Sadly some get sick and die from complications due to mismanaged procedures,” she stated, noting that death from botched abortions was the eight leading cause of maternal deaths in Jamaica, and is primarily affecting adolescents who die from abortion complications.

“This concerns me as a member of this honourable House. The current law frustrates many Jamaican women, especially poor women who are desperately in need of termination.

“It is time for the Parliament to no longer sit on the sideline while the debate rages around the issue of pro-life and pro-choice,” she said.

The debate is expected to resume when the House meets again next Tuesday.

— Balford Henry

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