Letters to the Editor

Rapists get sentence-reduction days, women who abort get life sentences

Friday, May 18, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I hope when we have the conversation around abortion this time there is more than just talk, but serious action. The research has shown that, without a doubt, women in Jamaica are having abortions.

The unit at Victoria Jubilee that has had to respond to complications derived from unsafe, unregulated abortions shows that there are real-life consequences, beyond the potential for a sentence of life imprisonment if charged and prosecuted, for having an unsafe abortion.

Our maternal mortality rates are affected by the fact that women have no legal way of accessing safe abortions. In other words, because of our laws, some women are dying.

There has to be more than the just the back and forth of pro-life and pro-choice. The conversations around the sustained criminalisation of abortion ignore on the ground realities and the fact that poor women are the ones whose health and lives are at stake because they can't just hop on a plane and get an abortion or afford the secret offices of private doctors frequented by their counterparts living uptown.

Let's consider the reality that a man who rapes a woman can get convicted for 15 years and then have his sentence reduced if he pleads guilty on a particular day while that woman, who has to deal with the trauma of rape, faces the chance of life imprisonment if she has an abortion and is charged, or the possibility of serious health complications, or even death because abortions happen in an unregulated way. We have to do better for our women.

Giving women the option to choose termination services is not the same as telling women to terminate their pregnancies. Giving women the choice places the power over their own bodies in their hands. I, for one, believe in the capacity of women to make choices that is best for themselves. They run our homes, why aren't they allowed to run their own bodies?

Glenroy Murray

Associate Director, Programmes & Advocacy

Equality for All Foundation Jamaica Ltd

glenroy.am.murray@gmail.com

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