JAMAICA – A “necessary, personal and public health issue that needs to be addressed once and for all”

On 5 June, Julia Cuthbert-Flynn tabled a motion in the Jamaican parliament calling for a debate on the law that criminalises abortion.

The NGO Advocates for the Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal, and Infant Health (MNIH) welcomed the motion, which calls for the repeal of a law that threatens women with life imprisonment, with or without hard labour. The group noted that a conversation on “unsafe abortion and human rights” was recently sponsored by the Jamaica Council of Churches, with over 20 civil society organisations participating.

Unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal deaths in Jamaica. The Council of Churches forum provided a space for the exchange of views on “necessary, personal and public health issues that need to be addressed once and for all”.

“The motion is, therefore, very timely and strategic. It provides the opportunity for legislators across the aisle, and among female parliamentarians, in particular, to put an end to the criminalisation of poverty among vulnerable women and girls who may need termination of pregnancy for considered reasons. This is the time for responsive leadership to influence the nation and put in place civil legislation to regulate the termination of pregnancy under specified conditions. It is timely to give recognition to the human rights of women to choose and take the decision for themselves, with support and advice, on whether or not to terminate a pregnancy,” said the MNIH.

SOURCE/PHOTO: Jamaica Gleaner, 7 June 2018