Mrs Cuthbert Flynn will face the cowardice of colleague politicians in the abortion debate

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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One of the great ironies in life here is that some of our loudest proponents of democracy are at the sane time among the most virulently opposed to the holding of a referendum to decide issues that Jamaicans find hardest to resolve.

They argue all the time that referenda divide people along political party lines and therefore achieve no true resolution. Of course, they have no answer to the question as to whether general elections should be avoided because they divide people along political party lines.

Some of the most enduring issues that have dogged us for decades without resolution include legalising abortion, adopting the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), decriminalising the Buggery Act, and legalising marijuana, among others.

If the current abortion debate — which is possibly the most intractable of them all — leads to some workable resolution, we might have the Olympian and Member of Parliament for St Andrew West Rural Juliet Cuthbert Flynn to thank.

Mrs Cuthbert Flynn indicates in her latest attempt to fire up the debate that abortion is personal for her, because of the death of a valuable young constituent from a botched abortion.

As one who competed at the highest level of world athletics, she likely knows of many young athletes who got pregnant from a spur of the moment sexual encounter, with no plan whatsoever for a child, something we gather is rampant in athlete villages.

Many of the girls, like so many others in society, would not have amounted to anything were they forced to carry the pregnancy to term. The arguments for and against are so well known that we need not belabour them here.

We in this space have always found it peculiar that the abortion debate, while stressing the obviously laudable need for the preservation of life at conception, rarely, if ever, worry about that very life in the latter stages.

For example, police find it so easy to kill even innocent unarmed black people in the United States with little if any outcry from the same people trumpeting the value and sanctity of life in the womb.

Mrs Cuthbert Flynn wants the Parliament to repeal sections 72 and 73 of the Offences Against the Persons Act, which makes abortion illegal and substitute it with a civil law — The Termination of Pregnancy Act — as was recommended by the Abortion Policy Review Group in 2007.

In this her new race for life, she is going to face the cowardice of her colleague politicians, who are running away from their leadership responsibility in guiding the nation through these tough issues, because they fear losing political capital.

The abortion debate is expected to resume in the House of Representatives today. If Mrs Cuthbert Flynn can get them to at least agree on a referendum, she would have done her job. But she must be prepared for a long, hard fight.

It is conceivable that several of the controversial issues, including the CCJ, the Buggery Act, and marijuana which is a no-brainer, can be put on the ballot and be dealt with in one go. O, that Parliament will find its cojones.

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