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  • Member of Parliament for North West St. Ann, Dr. Dayton Campbell is urging the Government to repeal the provisions concerning abortion under the Offences Against the Persons Act.
  • He argued that the current illegal status of abortion in all circumstances exposes women to stigma and discrimination when they are faced with this choice.
  • In Jamaica, Sections 72 and 73 of the Offences Against the Persons Act it is a criminal offence to terminate a pregnancy.

Member of Parliament for North West St. Ann, Dr. Dayton Campbell is urging the Government to repeal the provisions concerning abortion under the Offences Against the Persons Act.

Dr. Campbell was making his contribution to the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 6.

He argued that the current illegal status of abortion in all circumstances exposes women to stigma and discrimination when they are faced with this choice.

“Women should not be punished for what is a difficult decision about their body, life and future. It is a misuse of Government power to take that right from them. Denying women access to medical services that enable them to regulate their fertility or terminate an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy amounts to a refusal to provide health care that only women need,” Dr. Campbell stated.

He added that women are consequently exposed to health risks not experienced by men.

“Repealing the prohibitive provisions under the Offences Against the Persons Act concerning abortion….would restore this right to women and prevent further stigmatization and gender discrimination,” he further commented.

In Jamaica, Sections 72 and 73 of the Offences Against the Persons Act it is a criminal offence to terminate a pregnancy, and a person who has the procedure “shall be liable to be imprisoned for life with or without hard labour.”

It also criminalises medical professionals who facilitate a woman’s exercise of choice to have her pregnancy terminated, and the parents and guardians who facilitate termination of pregnancies of girls under the age of 18.

If convicted they “shall be liable to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding 3 years with or without hard labour.”

Dr. Campbell also noted that a 2006 public opinion survey conducted by Hope Enterprise found that “60 per cent of respondents support the legalization of termination of pregnancy under “special conditions” such as “incest, endangerment of the woman’s physical or mental health and/or life.”

“From the public health perspective, we need to address these women who burden the public health system after botched abortion attempts. Evidence in Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, South Korea, Guyana and Barbados shows that where abortion is legal maternal morbidity and mortality rates fall. Rates may initially seem to rise because of the previous underreporting,” the Member of Parliament stated.

According to the 2002 Reproductive Health Survey nearly half of all pregnancies, 41 per cent, were unplanned. Also only 50 per cent of pregnancies were planned according to the 2008 Reproductive Health Survey.

In 2009, 7,612 live births occurred to mothers under the age of 20, a decrease from the 7,680 recorded at the end of the year 2008. Meanwhile, 81 per cent of recent births reported by women aged 15 to 19 were unplanned.