Call for new look at abortion laws

By Geisha Kowlessar
May 05, 2016 –

AbortionAmid increased calls to legalise abortions which have been sanctioned by former health minister Dr Fuad Khan and advisory director of the Family Planning Association Dr Jacqueline Sharpe, Roman Catholic priest Father Clyde Harvey, however, said T&T must build a society where life was respected even in the most difficult of circumstances, including abnormalities.

There have been fervent calls by some groups to have the procedure legal especially in light of the Zika virus.

At a forum on the topic Abortion: Her body, her choice?, at the Noor Hassanali Auditorium, UWI, St Augustine Campus, yesterday there was a strong call by Khan and Sharpe for the legislature to be re-examined and therefore grant women the right to do with their bodies as they saw fit, especially in instances of rape, incest and where the mother’s life was at risk.

Sharpe, who said the most recent data available were from 2004, showed there were 1,854 abortions which were conducted at the hospitals, of which 333 were spontaneous and five were medical abortions. She said worldwide some 22 million women underwent abortions, whether legal or illegal, annually.

In Guyana, she added, abortion was available on request but for specific requirements, including rape and incest. St Vincent and St Lucia have also changed their laws. Describing abortion as a very uncomfortable topic, Khan said he had seen the effects of unsafe abortions and called for further discussions to take place.

“Moving forward more religious bodies and more women’s groups should come out and give their views but I believe women should have the right to deal with their bodies the way they see fit,” Khan said. He said legislation was archaic, adding if a person was caught selling over the counter drugs that person could be jailed for four years for aiding and abetting in an abortion.

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3 thoughts on “Call for new look at abortion laws”

  1. Amend abortion legislation, FPA advisor

    By MIRANDA LA ROSE Thursday, May 5 2016

    HIGH mortality and morbidity rates caused by self-inducement and back street abortions, in spite of the illegality, was just one of many reasons why amending existing legislation to allow for safe and legally induced abortions on request was needed says Family Planning Association advisory doctor, Dr Jacqueline Sharpe.

    The amendment should cover, Sharpe said, a broader number of social and economic issues facing women, in addition to current provisions catering for the woman’s health and mental well-being, and provision must be made to make abortion services generally accessible.

    Sharpe was one of four panellists who spoke yesterday to a full audience at the Noor Hassanali Auditorium, University of the West Indies St Augustine Campus on the topic, “Abortion: Her body, her choice.” “We need to develop clear protocols and guidelines for public health services to address the issues of termination of pregnancy under the current laws, so that both women and health care providers in the public and private sector can have appropriate and safe, legal abortions,” Sharpe said.

    Also needed, she said, were comprehensive sexuality education for young boys and girls, the scaling up of family planning services to deal with methods of contraception, access to emergency contraception and medical protocols for all female rape victims of reproductive age, as well as, post abortion care – safe and unsafe – including counselling and access to contraception.

    These views were basically shared by two other panellists, former health minister Dr Fuad Khan and former UWI senior lecturer, Merle Hodge.

    However, Roman Catholic priest Fr Clyde Harvey said abortion was seriously wrong and that according to the Catholic church’s catechism, “human life must be respected and protected absolutely, from the moment of conception.” Noting that Sharpe mentioned that the law provides for abortion to protect the woman’s mental and physical health, Harvey said, nowhere was reference made as to the welfare of the child. “That is a consideration, we must look at,” he said.,227383.html

  2. This is what I write about when I chide the media for low information reporting. IN one of it’s headlines, Newsday reports on Child marriages that hindu practices encourage. It was a follow up on something that Sat Maharaj said and condones about the practice: “Hindu Women: Outlaw child marriages”. But the article NEVER mentioned what Sat said nor did it elaborate on Sat’s points, he made to trigger the issue. How is that for objective reporting eh?. When news or reporting on news hide, ignore or deliberately avoid highlighting obvious ingredients to intelligent reporting, it makes the media, newspapers or the reporter look like novices or journalists lacking in journalistic skills. Maybe worse, when important ingredients are left out of a story, it is a red flag that it is the intention to leave certain important information out of the context. This is what happens all over the [lace in the media in Trinidad and Tobago.
    The article went on to state ” THE Hindu Women’s Organisation of TT (HWO) is calling for child marriages to be outlawed in this country.” If this is fact, why hasn’t the article elaborated on the proponents of child marriages, the laws and objectives of why this issue has become prominent?. The article further stated “the HWO said it noted with great interest a recent statement made by Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha general secretary Sat Maharaj on this issue.” OK, but why not tell us what Sat said?
    To me that is incomplete phrasing for an article written in a national newspapers worthy of promulgating information. This is what is wrong with how they process and print information. It is no wonder why people are very skeptical of media reporting. They lack clarity and proper focus on issues.

  3. “However, Roman Catholic priest Fr Clyde Harvey said abortion was seriously wrong and that according to the Catholic church’s catechism, “human life must be respected and protected absolutely, from the moment of conception.”
    Whilst we are debating the amendment of this legislation, In some metropolitan countries there is debate on the potential legislation of medical assisted suicide. Is this the end product of saving a possible abortion?

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