What about my rights?


Thursday, February 14, 2019

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Today, February 14 is the 90th birthday of Roman Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Kingston, Most Reverend Edgerton Clarke. He was also the first Roman Catholic bishop of Montego Bay, having served there as bishop from 1967 to 1995 when he was installed as archbishop of Kingston. Clarke served as archbishop of Kingston for nine years until 2004.

Today is also Valentine's Day. The date of this feast of St Valentine in the middle of February is also the start of the mating season for doves in southern Europe; hence the practice of dating and marriage proposals on this day — a practice that has spread to Jamaica.

Unfortunately, this also became an occasion for sexual immorality that sometimes leads to unwanted pregnancies.

Because of the way Valentine's Day is observed by some, and since the subject of abortion remains high on the nation's agenda, I refer to Roman Catholic doctrine with excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, numbers 2270 to 2274:

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of existence, a human being must be recognised as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life… 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you' (Jeremiah 1:5)…

“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the State is denying the equality of all before the law. When the State does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a State based on law are undermined...

“Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law… Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.”

So the questions are asked: What if the mother had been raped? What if circumstances of birth mean that either the mother would die or the baby?

The Roman Catholic Church defends the rights of the foetus and teaches that the unborn should be given the priority. I could ask what about my rights, although mine were not infringed. My mother had a very difficult birth with me and either of us could have died at childbirth.

And every time I hear the pro-abortionists I reflect on what my mother told me. I was also told the details by the Irish nuns who rushed to deliver me into this world at St Joseph's Hospital, then run by the Roman Catholic Church. The other nurses employed there, who perhaps were not Roman Catholic, were too busy listening on the lone radio station on that very day to the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II in Jamaica to pay attention to a baby being born feet-first, or breeched. That particular day was November 25, 1953.

I was born not breathing at birth and was rushed in for oxygen for the first four days of my life. Incidentally, this is the reason for my clear memory observed by some, as apparently that is what happens to babies who have oxygen pumped into them continuously in the first few days of their lives. And that is why I have all or most of the symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome, which readers can research on the Internet.

So my conscience dictates that it is definitely my duty to all unborn children, on their innocent behalf, to publicly defend their rights, since I could have been in a similar position more than 65 years ago.

To answer my readers' unspoken question, I was told about it when I was old enough to handle those facts.

Perhaps the worst thing apart from murder that can happen to a woman is rape. But what about the rights of the child in the womb? Rape is always unjust and cannot be anything but unjust. But does that mean that the injustice should be extended to the innocent child in the womb?

What moral right has anyone to determine and to judge that anyone should terminate the life of an unborn child? Do not civilised societies provide homes for such children if needs be? Shouldn't we try to become equally civilised if we are not already so?

I was born of parents who were already married for five years, and I am chronologically the fourth of five such offspring. The union produced three daughters and two sons.

But were I born in a diametrically opposite set of circumstances, wouldn't I have a right to be born just the same? Not if some people had their way 65 years ago.

What about Juliet Cuthbert, Member of Parliament, who wants to legalise abortion? What were the circumstances in which she was born? Perhaps it was normal, perhaps it was not. Does she care at all since she survived her own birth?

One reason for the promotion of abortion is that there is big money in that business. There is also big money in birth control products and in the treating of venereal diseases.

Is Juliet Cuthbert, with her popularity as a former national athlete, being used to promote abortion?

In the 1960s the common graffiti all over Kingston was “Birth Control: Plan to kill black people”. Could that be another reason? I mention this in keeping with February also being observed as Black History Month.

Birth control advertisements in the media and on billboards psyche up people to engage in sex rather than abstain before marriage because birth control commodities and medicines are sold and bought as by-products. The grand excuse is that it helps the Government to plan properly for the population. We need a fundamental change in our collective mindset.

Michael Burke is a research consultant, historian and current affairs analyst. Send comments to the Observer or

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