Planned Parenthood Targets Trinidad and Tobago to Legalize Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Planned Parenthood Targets Trinidad and Tobago to Legalize Abortion

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
August 10, 2004

Port of Spain, Trinidad (LifeNews.com) — The small island country of Trinidad and Tobago has been of great interest to pro-abortion groups in the United States, and pro-life groups are now working to protect women and the unborn in the Caribbean nation.

Trinidad and Tobago, which has a population of approximately 1.3 million, has one of the top abortion rates in the world, with roughly 45 out of every 1,000 women ages 15-44 having an abortion. In the U.S., by comparison, approximately 27 women per 1,000 have an abortion.

That number is likely not accurate Dr. Godfrey Rajkumar told the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, as hospitals there report voluntary and spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) simply as "abortions.”

According to Human Life International, which has conducted several pro-life mission trips to Trinidad and Tobago, abortion is prohibited by law, but that law is seldom enforced and abortion is widely practiced.

Abortion advocates in the country, predominantly the Advocates for Safe Parenthood Improving Reproductive Equity (ASPIRE), have tried sway public opinion to favor fewer restrictions on abortion by arguing that legalizing the procedure would decrease the abortion rate.

ASPIRE has been promoting a document, which they refer to as the "Women’s Choice on Pregnancy Bill” to outline their proposed changes to Trinidad’s abortion policy. Pro-life leaders have pointed out that since no MP or governmental ministry has accepted the document, it is not actually a legislative bill, but only a wish list of ASPIRE.

"Recognizing that the provisions of the Offenses Against the Person Act severely restrict access to safe, legal termination of pregnancy and counseling in respect thereof, this Act therefore modifies those provisions and provides for the exercise of reproductive choice by providing every woman the right to choose safe, legal termination of pregnancy and counseling thereof,” states the document.

The document also includes provision for minors to obtain abortions without parental consent, for women to obtain abortions without notifying their spouses, and for fines or jail terms for medical providers who refuse to perform abortions.

For the most part, ASPIRE’s efforts are limited to issuing public statements, and dependence on foreign organizations’ financial donations.

"ASPIRE, on Radio 106 the other day, admitted they get money from Planned Parenthood for their work. I understand it is in the sum of about US $20,000 a month, that is more than TT$120,000,” explained Leela Ramdeen, an attorney with Lawyers for Jesus during a seminar on "Defending the Unborn” in July. "These people are fighting because they are getting money, so it is worth their while to keep doing these things.”

Brian Clowes of Human Life International told LifeNews.com that he calls ASPIRE members "air-conditioned warriors.”

"The people certainly don’t want abortion in T&T,” explained Clowes. "We have had marches of thousands of people there. The pro-abortionists do not march or demonstrate, because their only supporters are the rich who do not like to get all hot and sweaty. There are no polls taken on abortion, because the power brokers know that they will be outvoted 3 or 4 to one. They do not debate us, because they know they will lose every time.”

In contrast, pro-life ministries such as the lay Catholic Emmanuel community are active in supporting women in crisis pregnancies.

The Archdiocesan home called "Mary Care" has taken care of some two hundred women in crisis pregnancies since 1987. Emmanuel members have even opened their own homes to young women with children who are in crisis.

While the pro-abortion movement does not reflect the will of the people, pro-life leaders recognize that there is a very real danger of even the false impression that the government supports ASPIRE’s work.

"Our Prime Minister says he is pro-life, so if ASPIRE can get a ministry to collaborate with them … they will be able to publicly say then that they have Government support,” said Ramdeen.

Pro-life forces gathered to petition Prime Minister Patrick Manning not to give int to foreign interest groups pushing for abortion.

Dr. Noreen Johnson, a Trinidadian native who lived in the U.S. for several years, called the Abortion industry "a very lucrative one where the patient usually pays cash upfront before they have even seen a doctor."

Johnson admitted that while completing her residency in Los Angeles, her annual income was increased by $70,000 by performing abortions. Johnson warned that others should learn from her mistake, to avoid the "stain and stigma” of abortion.

Providing valuable insight as a former practitioner, Johnson spoke at a press conference in July about how abortion depended on the "wantedness or unwantedness" of the baby. "Once a woman becomes pregnant, she is a mother,” Johnson stated plainly, adding that the baby will be either delivered alive in birth, or dead via abortion.

Lawyers for Jesus and the Trinidad Coalition for Life joined with the Brazos Valley (Texas) Coalition for Life to announce a petition drive to collect 100,000 signatures opposing abortion, to send to the Prime Minister.

David Bereit, president of the Coalition for Life from Texas, traveled with Johnson across the country giving press conferences.

"During my talks, I challenged people of faith to take a stand before it’s too late, and encouraged believers to influence the country through: prayer, preparedness, participation, petitions, public awareness, Parliament, and persistence,” said Bereit. "We both encouraged audiences to learn from the mistakes made by the U.S. in legalizing abortion, rather than repeat them.”

Bereit, who led a campaign in central Texas to identify and boycott organizations that supported Planned Parenthood, added that his organization will continue to support the pro-life efforts in Trinidad and Tobago. Bereit has been already been invited to return to the Caribbean nation to further assist the pro-life movement.

"We will continue to provide guidance to the people leading the Trinidad & Tobago effort, and we have great hope for these believers in the Southern Caribbean,” Bereit concluded.

Related Sites:
Human Life International – https://www.hli.org