By Miranda La Rose
Saturday, May 7 2016 – newsday.co.tt
IT WOULD be interesting, if on the issue of abortion, local lawyers were bold enough to challenge existing prohibitions against this to see if this ban may actually infringe upon an individual’s right to life and right to liberty, High Court Judge, Justice Frank Seepersad says.
Seepersad, who delivered the main address on Thursday at a conference on ‘Making of the Indian Constitution’, at the School of Education, University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, noted the laws in the famous United States case of Roe versus Wade (1973) had been challenged on the right to abortion, and the Supreme Court considered that abortion was a fundamental right.
It also found that abortion was included in the written guarantee of personal privacy.
“The question as to whether the State should be allowed, in this modern era, to legislate over a women’s right to be in charge of her womb and to criminalise decisions that she may make in relation to pregnancies must and has to be addressed,” Justice Seepersad said.
It may also be argued, Seepersad added, that decisions as to whether or not, a woman should be left to carry a child should be a personal decision, as pregnancy has a direct impact on her health and her life.
“While theologically-based views of morality can, should and must guide each individual’s decision as to his or her lifestyle choices,” he said that it should not be the focal point where the determination of national policies were undertaken, nor should it be the pivot on which the national agenda turns.
However, in the local jurisdiction, he said, “we are faced with the dilemma between Church and State and the fear of political fallout if the perceived wrong decision is made.” “Unofficially, Trinidad and Tobago has been referred to as a secular state,” he said, “but in reality it is the Christian ideology that has played a significant impact on the formation of our laws”, as Christianity from colonial times, was the dominant religion.
Speaking to India’s Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act which was passed since 1981, he said it was recognised as a revolutionary piece of legislation that enabled a woman to have an abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy, under specified circumstances.
The act covered the very liberal rare circumstance of contraceptive failure, he said.
The judge said public discussion on abortion in TT, a country that claims to be secular, seems to be primarily premised on theological perspectives.