JAMAICA – Juliet Cuthbert Flynn has moved to the front benches: what should she do about abortion

Member of Parliament in Jamaica Juliet Cuthbert Flynn (above) has become junior Minister for Health and Wellness in the government. What should she do about promoting abortion law reform from that position? There is no party line to toe on the subject, and her views as an advocate are clear. The Holness administration has not made a clear statement on its position on abortion nor said whether or how it intends to proceed on the recommendation by the Parliament’s Human Resources and Social Development Committee to hold a conscience vote on the matter.

The Jamaica Gleaner, which has reported many of her efforts on this subject over the years, has written an editorial to tell her what they think she should do. It is this: “that she relaunches and reinvigorates her campaign for the legalisation of abortion in Jamaica, utilising her added purchase as the junior Minister for Health and Wellness, with a portfolio that specifically includes maternal health.”

They believe she has two things in her favour if she does so: first, the momentum of successful law reform in New Zealand and Argentina last year, and second, the changed composition of Jamaica’s Parliament after the September 2020 general election. It now includes 29% women in the House of Representatives and 38% women in the Senate. The Gleaner thinks many of them would support her.

Here is their view: “We had hoped that the parliamentary committee would endorse a position similar to what we have outlined and in keeping with the 2006 proposals of a health ministry policy review committee. Instead, they stated the various policy options and suggested the conscience vote. Abortion reform has been on and off the agenda for decades. Mrs Cuthbert Flynn put it back there in 2018 with her private member’s motion in Parliament. She must now hit the campaign trail to see the process through.”

SOURCE: Jamaica Gleaner, Editorial, 11 January 2021 ; PHOTO: McKoysNews, 26 September 2020