Accessing safe abortions is a fundamental human right
Pro-choice advocates believe it is a woman's right to make decisions about her reproductive health.

Dear Editor,

I pen this letter with a mix of incredulity and concern in response to the recent comments made by Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte regarding her lack of support for abortion.

While I appreciate the diversity of opinions in our society, it is disheartening to witness such a regressive stance on an issue as crucial as reproductive rights. Allow me to articulate the profound importance of safe abortions and advocate for the protection of pro-choice policies.

First and foremost, let us recognise that safe abortions save lives. Women across the world have faced the heartbreaking consequences of unsafe procedures, resulting in countless deaths and lifelong health complications. By providing access to safe abortions, we not only prioritise the well-being and autonomy of women, but we also uphold the fundamental right to life – a right that encompasses not just the foetus but the lives and well-being of women too.

Furthermore, it is crucial to acknowledge that being pro-choice does not equate to being pro-abortion. Advocating for safe abortions means acknowledging the complexity of individual circumstances and recognising that women are best positioned to make decisions about their own bodies. It is not for us, or any governing body, to impose our personal beliefs on to others. As French Enlightenment writer, philosopher, and historian Voltaire aptly stated, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Similarly, we should defend a woman's right to make choices regarding her own body, regardless of our personal beliefs.

Moreover, comprehensive reproductive health care, which includes safe abortions, is an essential component of gender equality. Denying women access to safe abortions perpetuates a society in which their choices, aspirations, and potential are limited by their reproductive capacities. It is through the ability to make decisions about our reproductive health that we can truly claim agency over our lives and participate as equals in society.

Let us not forget that restricting access to safe abortions disproportionately affects marginalised communities. Women from low-income backgrounds, rural areas, and communities with limited health-care resources are particularly vulnerable. By championing safe abortions, we empower these women to control their own destinies and break the cycle of poverty and inequality.

Minister Malahoo Forte's comments seems to reveal a disregard for the realities faced by countless women in our society. As a minister entrusted with the responsibility of upholding justice and protecting the rights of all citizens, it is disconcerting to witness such a dismissive attitude towards an issue of immense importance. It is my hope that our government officials can engage in a more nuanced and compassionate dialogue on this matter.

The availability of safe abortions is not just a matter of personal choice but an essential pillar of reproductive rights, gender equality, and public health. Let us stand united in supporting policies that promote the well-being and autonomy of women and advocate for the protection of safe and legal access to abortions.

Lamar Grant

Policy and advocacy manager

TransWave Jamaica

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