Abortion a matter of public interest

Newsday Editorial
Monday, April 25 2016 – newsday.co.tt

AbortionWHEN things get tough, Governments always turn to the usual scapegoats. The remarks of Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh are a classic case of shooting the messenger.

But this tack damages democracy as much as it undermines the credibility of the Government.

What gives Deyalsingh the right to censor the media? “I am ending this discussion of abortion,” Deyalsingh declared last Friday. “I don’t deny that this is a convenient topic to sell news….The focus should be squarely on source reduction. Let us keep our eyes on the prize.” Deyalsingh should keep his eye on the Constitution, Section 4 of which enshrines freedom of the press as a supreme right in this land. The Minister may well feel abortion is completely unrelated to the question of Zika, but even if that were so, abortion would still be a matter of public interest. The Government’s policy on the matter is a public health issue, a criminal justice issue, and a gender affairs issue. There is no escaping it, Zika or no.

Ask the women who may be subject to back-alley abortions; the families harmed through unsuccessful attempts at abortion; the victims of rape and incest; the critically ill mothers; the households unable to fed their children; as well as persons who may find themselves subject to law enforcement agencies. Even a doctor and a mother reportedly involved in one case of statutory rape have recently been ensnared by the law.

It falls ill in the mouth of Deyalsingh to reprimand members of the media for raising the question of the State’s policy on this matter particularly when his Cabinet colleagues bred much confusion on the issue last week at the Cabinet media “briefing”. In shutting down questions on the matter, they claimed Deyalsingh would address the issue.

Embarrassing scenes played out at the Office of the Prime Minister when the Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie – whose portfolio title is fast becoming ironic – said, obtusely, “The Government will obey the law of the land.” Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, at the same briefing, said Cabinet’s deliberations were secret. “Cabinet discussions are secret and confidential,” he told one reporter. He then sought to deflect the inquiry by getting personal, saying, “You know that.” The only coherent response really came from Minister of Finance Colm Imbert who, speaking at the same briefing, said, “No decision has been taken on that matter.” But it is not just the abortion issue that has riled up some officials. Crime, too, is getting ministers vex with the media.

“It is the occasional bad behaviour that leads to murder and gets the front pages,” says Works Minister Fitzgerald Hinds on the coverage of crime at Laventille. “I am calling on those responsible for the nasty imaging of Laventille to cease and settle and take it down and give us a break”. Is the Minister suggesting that when crime occurs it should not be reported? Is the taking of a human life not the most important matter which we should, as a society, be concerned about? Laventille alone has not been on the front pages. Crime is now all over Trinidad – Enterprise and the Mitan River are two examples of locations most prominently featured within recent times. With a crime rate that is taking such a heinous turn, the media arguably has more than a right to report. It has a duty.

Through good times and bad, it is the media, not the politicians or public institutions, that have held public officials accountable. Even if private media organisations are imperfect, that is no reason to shut them up. The fact of the matter is, governments come and go and it is the media that will always be here.

Public officials cannot afford to forget that the media is the first line of defence of any democracy. They should not suppress public debate.

They should answer.


4 thoughts on “Abortion a matter of public interest”

  1. Everything that occurs in the public is the business of the citizenry. Abortion of all other matters is definitely a matter asking/begging the input of all. PNM and their party hacks always talk as though we must shut up and listen and that of all people in T&T we should listen to their records that are the worst you can find or think of. WHO GIVES THEM THE RIGHT? According to their propaganda IMF and the World Bank. So much for trust, good faith and reliance. As I say it is time we the people come together, overcome the race bogey and work around the diversionary tactics.

  2. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20160423/news/sweet-drinks-deal

    How far the express has fallen! Under the control of The Ethno-Religious political Cult! Camini Maharaj seems to only emerge to do stories on UNC enemies or control stories that put her UNC/COP/PP in the correct light i.e. Negative light. So the Pananama papers expose that Ken Emerith was paid kickbacks to faciliatate the sale of State Assets which were initiated by the UNCOPP while in government. Surprise surprise! Here are the facts
    (1) The PNM initiated a bailout of CL Financial, but UNC came in office and put up the company for sale
    (2) Most intelligent citizens expected this move to sell CL financial assets as a way for the UNCOPP to line its pockets with kickbacks and buy assets for themselves, friwnds & family (Indians of course) at “Fire sale” prices
    (3) Ken Emerith is a UNCOPP Agent
    (4) Ken Emerith is now found to have been paid tens of millions of $$ for setting up the sale of CL financial assets (so far)
    (5) Ken’s Party/cult the UNCOPP was in power and ultimately responsible for the sale of assets

    Why does Camini Maharaj keep planting the words “low level” and “former” each and every time she mention Ken Emerith’s UNC membrship?? Ahhhhh is he still a member in the books???? How does Camini know that he is no longer a UNC functionary? How does camini know that he is not a High level funtionary of UNCOPP? ?? If he isn’t a member now….was he a meber at the time these deals were being done???? We already know the answer….it is a disgrace to have these obviously politically biased expose spalshed across the populations eyes as “unbiased journalism” it appears as though camini is trying to “breaks” for the UNCOPP! Controlling the damage the revelations from the panama papers reveal and at the same time trying to boost her profile as a “investigative journalist” remember in the past scandal filled political term of the hindu queen,brahmin by boat….Camini only e,erged to investigate Jack Warner & Fifa AFTER he fell out of favour with Kamla and the UNCOPP. …Everyone in T&T knew about Jack & Fifa allegations.., buuuuuuuuutttttttt, only when he fell out of favour with THEM…..THEN she ‘investigated’ him……it makes me wonder if an Unbiased revelation of the contents of the panama papers are being done…..I hope ‘others’ who are N7n UNCOPP functionaries are able to read those Panama Papers! !! It would be sad to find out that Ken was the little fish thrown into the headlines in order to avoid discussing bigger fish….like thise in Kamla’s cabinet….those who mwere directly responsible for deciding to dissolve cl financial and possibly connected to Ken’s deals…..
    Notice how camini said Ken Emerith was facilitating the deals to sell Cl financial assets for “Unknown Interests”??? Sre you serious??? IF Ken Emerith is a UNC, the UNC was in political power of state assets….UNC members are in charge of deciding to dissolve and sell of CL financial assets….i hazard a guess that the “Unknown Interests” whom Ken Emerith was facilitating these shady deals for were UNCOPP members….possibly/ most likely former Government Ministers???? If Ken gor US$5 million( less than 1% of the deals (so far)…gee wiz…how much did his “Unknown Interests” make on the deals US$ 700 million (so far)???

  3. Deyalsingh: I think I was misquoted

    By Richardson Dhalai
    Saturday, April 30 2016

    SAYING he has no authority to stop a national discussion on abortion as it relates to the Zika virus, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday noted he may have been misquoted when, at a press conference last week, it was reported that he said he was not entertaining any further questions regarding abortions and the mosquito borne virus.

    “I think I was misquoted. What I said was, at the press conference last week, at every press conference for the past month, I have been questioned over and over and over about abortion. At the last press conference last week Friday, the first four questions were again on the same thing, the same questions being asked in different ways, and at that point in time, I said I would take no more questions…on that particular day,” Deyalsingh said.

    He was addressing a press conference at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, level 8 conference room, Chancery Lane, San Fernando yesterday.

    “I have no authority to stop a national discussion on abortion.

    Let it happen, we welcome it. It’s just that all the media is concerned about and here we go again. Zika is much more than abortion.” His explanation came a day after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, addressing the post Cabinet media briefing on Thursday, pointed out that Deyalsingh was not the Government nor the country to say that he (Deyalsingh) was ending discussions on abortion. The Prime Minister said discussions were continuing and noted that the conversation on the legalisation of abortion was, “something that our society needs to treat with and if so, how?” Meanwhile, Deyalsingh said there were 21 confirmed cases of Zika nationally with four of those cases being in the Gulf View area.

    “I still want to implore, beg, cajole the public, without their support, Mr and Mrs Homeowner we cannot fight this menace of Zika. Zika is much more than simply talking about abortion and I am sure you would have questions about that.

    The point I want to make is that my response as Minister of Health is source reduction at the level of homes,” he added.

    He also touched on the issue of maternal deaths saying he had appointed himself as Director of Women’s Health on assuming office in an effort to bring down the “thorny and vexatious issues” of maternal deaths. “When last have we had a maternal death in Trinidad and Tobago? Do you think that happen by guess. it happened because of policy intervention and when we had this cluster of maternal deaths when we assumed office, I assumed position of director of women’s health until we had a substantive person to fill the post and we had a few stakeholder meetings at my home and did some short term measures to tackle this thorny issue of maternal deaths,’ he said.


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