Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo-Forte (MMF), on June 6, 2023, in her Sectorial Debate in Parliament, announced that the current buggery and abortion laws in Jamaica would not be changed.
While I disagree with her on both issues, this response deals specifically with her stance on abortion.
As one of the bases for the refusal to repeal the abortion law, MMF cited her personal experience, specifically that her mother was told to abort her because neither she nor her mother would likely survive the birth.
One of the responsibilities of ministers of parliament is to think about the plight of their people and not their own personal experience. The fact that MMF cites this as her rationale, demonstrates a complete lack of empathy for the plight of women who have carried children, a situation which to the public’s knowledge MMF has never experienced. She also displayed a complete lack of understanding of the country that she lives in.
Let us talk about Jamaica and be honest about the country we live in. Rape and incest are rampant in this country. To say that a 13-year-old girl who is raped by her father should be forced to carry that child to term is insanity. To say that a girl who is walking home from school and raped must carry that child to term is insanity. If you can’t step outside yourself and realise that God and your personal experiences have nothing to do with these abominable situations, then you lack empathy and have no business being an elected leader who makes laws that affect other people.
Now let us talk about pregnant women. Firstly, science available at the time of MMF’s birth has jumped by leaps and bounds. The ability of medical professionals to determine whether a mother or child will survive birth or be able to determine the quality of life that the child post birth will have is lightyears from 50 years ago.
The Jamaican government provides little to no support for children with mental or physical disabilities. Yet MMF is in effect saying to women hold fast and I hope it works out because it worked out for me. Seriously?
Thank God MMF has never been in a position where she has had to ponder the situation of her birthed children not having a mother because she is forced to carry a dangerous pregnancy to term. MMF says the doctors could be wrong so we must all follow along blindly, despite sound current medical advice (not that of 50 years ago).
I am not even going to delve into the obvious point that a woman should have the right to control what goes on in her own body.
Let us also talk about the elephant in the room. Jamaica is supposed to have freedom of religion, but the church seems to set the rules. Are they the only ‘well-thinking’ people on this issue? This is hypocrisy of the highest order. The government and MMF’s position is about votes, not morals. There are plenty of actions that violate the bible that the government allows when it suits.
I must support the doctors who despite this law, are willing to risk their professional lives and liberty to violate this law because it is unjust and they do not wish back-alley abortions to be a commonality.
Andrew Holness, the following I say to you. Take the reigns for heaven’s sake, please I beg of you.
All this position does is breed a situation of back-alley abortions with women and girls using hangers to rip out their insides.
How about taking the sensible approach of talking to the medical professionals and not the talking heads on an issue of science? This is an issue about the safety of women. Women deserve this much from their government.
Gabriel Paige is a Jamaican woman who advocates for her sisters to have access to abortions if needed.