JAMAICA – Treatment for complications of unsafe abortion costs taxpayers US$1.4 million annually

Some 22,000 pregnancies end in abortion annually in Jamaica, a rough estimate from research done by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), who believe that the actual figure could be higher. The research further revealed that Jamaican taxpayers pay approximately US$1.4 million each year to fund the country’s healthcare system to treat complications of pregnancy loss, of which up to 43% may be caused by unsafe abortions islandwide.

The study, entitled ‘Coming to Terms, The Cost of Unequal Access to Safe Abortion in Jamaica’, will be officially launched on 4 February 2021, and is the latest information to emerge in what the Jamaica Gleaner describes as a “bonfire debate” over whether Jamaica’s abortion laws should be amended to provide safer, legal options, especially for the island’s poorest women.

“These costs are largely borne by Jamaica’s poorest and most vulnerable women, and their families. Women from the higher socio-economic quintiles are able to readily access safe abortions,” the study highlighted, noting that psychological strain on some mothers and their living children are immeasurable. Among those seeking abortion in the underworld are many teenagers and young adults dogged by concerns about poverty, the disruption of education or employment, the desire to provide for existing children, and in cases where expecting mothers are confused with no support from their unborn child’s father. Still others are seeking abortions because of family preferences, the findings outlined.

“For a very long time we have been trying to amend the legislation and the study is now just reinforcing that we should,” said Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert Flynn. “There will always be a need for women to have access to safe abortions in Jamaica, especially if we don’t amend our laws; and what this study shows is the burden on the State due to unsafe abortions, which is also of great importance.”

SOURCE: Jamaica Gleaner, by Corey Robinson, 31 January 2021