Minors should be able to legally access abortions without their parents’ consent.
That’s one of the key recommendations of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute, CAPRI’s latest study on access to abortions in Jamaica.
The study is titled “Coming to Terms: The Social Costs of Unequal Access to Safe Abortions”.
It’s recommending that if parliamentarians move to legalize the practice of abortion in Jamaica, parental consent should not be legally required before a minor can terminate a pregnancy.
Ricardo Brooks has been studying the 72-page document and files this report.
CAPRI says the data suggests requiring minors to obtain parental consent before terminating a pregnancy may delay young girls accessing much needed abortion care.
The research institute says requiring the parent’s consent may lead girls to engage in often riskier and costlier late-term abortion procedures.
They say this is because of a fear of their parents’ reactions.
When pressed to justify the recommendation, CAPRI’s Director of Advocacy, Dr. Leanne Levers says socio-cultural norms mean parents do not always react well to unwanted pregnancies.
Dr. Levers says the matter of abortion access is now a civil rights issue as up to an estimated 22-thousand young women and girls are accessing unsafe abortions every year.
She says removing the need for parental consent would allow medical professionals to offer the best possible advice to young patients who need to access the procedure.
CAPRI says Jamaica remains one of only four countries in the world to completely ban abortions.
It says continuing to restrict access to safe and legal abortions for young girls will have an adverse economic impact on the public health system as doctors have to treat with complications arising from botched abortions.
The think tank estimates that the cost of treating these complications costs the developing world an estimated 838-million US dollars annually.
Among CAPRI’s other recommendations are access to legalised tax payer funded abortions and a secret conscience vote in Parliament on the issue
The vexed issue of abortion has returned to the fore after State Minister of Health and Wellness Juliet Cuthbert Flynn signaled her intention to bring the matter before the House of Representatives for a vote.
It is not immediately clear when the House will take up the measure.
State Minister Accuses Church of Being Hindrance to Legalising Safe Abortions
Meanwhile, the State Minister of Health and Wellness, Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, is accusing the local church of being a hindrance to the legalisation of safe abortions in Jamaica.
Mrs. Cuthbert-Flynn says the church has been fueling a moral backlash in the society against what she says is a gender rights issue.
She’s urging the church to pay more attention and be guided by the different studies and reviews being done on the issue.
State Minister Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn.
Anglican priest, Father Sean Major Campbell, agrees.
He says while church leaders continue to stubbornly argue morality and scriptural texts, poor Jamaica women are dying from unsafe abortions.
Anglican priest, Father Sean Major Campbell
Cuthbert Flynn and the priest are urging church leaders to approach the abortion issue with more compassion and allow the Parliament to confront the issue without religious pressure.