Jamaica Government Continues Examining Possibility of Legalizing Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 11, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 11,

Kingston, Jamaica (LifeNews.com) — The Jamaican government continues to evaluate a proposal to legalize abortions there for any reason up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. A 17-member Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group composed of doctors and ministers says the island nation should legalize abortion because women are injured by illegal abortions annually.

Government statistics say as many as 20-30,000 illegal abortions are done there on an annual basis.

However, as pro-life advocates there note, legalizing abortion doesn’t necessary make it safer as women in industrialized nations with legal abortions are still killed and injured from them.

They say improving pre-natal care or offering assistance to pregnant women to keep their babies would be more helpful and responsible.

“The vast majority of Jamaicans really understand that there is no reason to kill a baby, ever,” Fr. Tom Euteneuer of Human Life International told LifeNews.com.

He explained that the government and abortion advocates there are inflating the number of women who are injured by illegal abortions.

“They grossly exaggerate or skew the numbers of women being harmed and killed by illegal abortionists and then on the basis of their voluminous reports to government and scare tactics, they push the agenda to legalize abortion claiming that they are the real champions of women,” he said.

Health Minister Rudyard Spencer said in a Friday press conference that the government is relying on the committee and not influencing its recommendation.

“There is no doubt that this is a very delicate matter,” he said, according to an AP report. “When a report is made, it will be from an informed position, based on public reaction. The government is not anti or pro.”

Last month, the Jamaica House of Representatives signed of on the creation of the committee and pro-life groups have been organizing to oppose legalization ever since.

“Abortion on demand, or for personal convenience, social adjustment or economic advantage, is morally wrong,” Reverend Peter Garth, president of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, told the committee.

Should Jamaica legalize abortions, it would join Cuba as the only other island nation in the western hemisphere to have legalized abortion.

Jamaica received international attention last year when 22 year-old Miss Jamaica World 2006 Sara Lawrence gave up her crown rather than submit to an abortion when she became pregnant.

About her decision not to have an abortion, Lawrence said, "I believe that it is my moral obligation to do what I believe to be ethically correct and will follow what I believe to be right."

The young woman said her boyfriend supported her decision to keep the baby and added that she would have no problem continuing to pursue a career and raising her child at the same time.

"I will continue pursuing a career in medicine after the birth of my baby," Lawrence said.