While opening a parliamentary debate on whether abortion should be legalized, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn this week said the current law does not in any way prevent women from having abortions; it only causes frustration and sometimes death.
The Member of Parliament for St Andrew West Rural said Sections 72 and 73 of the Offences Against the Persons Act should be repealed, and should be replaced with a civil law titled Termination of Pregnancy Act, as recommended by the Abortion Policy Review Group in 2007.
She told the House of Representatives: “The members of this House are old enough to know that the illegality of abortion has not in any way prevented women from procuring one from a qualified or less than qualified medical professional – or attempting to do so on their own.
“We know of those cases; we hear about those cases from time to time – and it’s not just persons from a certain background who are getting abortion,” Cuthbert-Flynn said.
She cited research, which she said support her argument. “Research conducted in 2014 found that 43 percent of expectant mothers who were admitted with complications at Victoria Jubilee [Hospital] had attempted abortions…”
“I stand for more than 200,000 women who could face life imprisonment because they procured an abortion in the last 10 years,” she further told the parliament.
Cuthbert-Flynn said one of her constituents actually died as a result of a botched abortion.
“In 2018, I lost one of my constituents – a young woman who was in her late 20s, and she died due to complications of a botched abortion. She was vibrant, full of life, very smart; and I am saddened by what happened. Her death was avoidable and it haunts me to this day.
“I, as a parliamentarian, feel particularly responsible for the grief the family and friends have had since the passing of my constituent. I feel like I have a personal responsibility as a lawmaker to do something… I want to be the voice for women to have the right to choose… I stand before this honourable House as a woman, as a mother and a legislator for those women who are being frustrated by the illegality of abortion in this country… I stand for those women and teenagers who took ill or die trying to terminate a pregnancy,” added Cuthbert-Flynn. The debate will continue at a later date.