Argentine abortion legislation brings hope in the Caribbean – global issues


  • Written by Kate Chappelle (Kingston, Jamaica)
  • Inter Press service

Now, women and activists across Latin America and the Caribbean hope these developments will spur lawmakers to consider decriminalizing abortion in their countries, spare women their lives, economic well-being and dignity, and access to a range of options to make the best choice for their public health delivery.

The Latin America and Caribbean region has some of the most restrictive legislation in the world.

As To the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based health policy and research organization, between 2010 and 2014, 6.5 million induced abortions were performed each year. In this region, 97% of women live in countries with restrictive legislation on abortion, but 46% of nearly 14 million unintended pregnancies end in miscarriage. About 60% of these were considered “unsafe”.

When asked if there is a sense of hope that Argentine legislation will spur change in the rest of the region, Tony Brodber, representative of UN Women, the multi-country office in the Caribbean, said there are encouraging signs. “I hope so. We are now in the middle of a pandemic, people are struggling to recover and are trying to manage daily life in light of the epidemic, but there is a lot of support for what happened inside the spaces of women’s organizations.” “It is a difficult conversation, so it will be discussed for a long time,” she added, adding that human rights must be centered and stakeholders should focus on lessons learned from Ireland and other countries, as well as on empathy and common goals. She noted that Jamaica, like all Caribbean countries, is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, of which Article 16 speaks of the right to reproductive freedom. (The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Article 16) guarantees women equal rights in making decisions “freely and responsibly regarding the number of children, birth spacing, access to information, education and the means that enable them to exercise these rights.” The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Article 10) also states that a woman’s right to education includes “access to specific educational information to help ensure the health and well-being of the family, including information and advice about family planning.”) In Jamaica, where abortion takes place criminal With a possible life sentence with or without hard labor (except for saving a woman’s life or maintaining her mental and physical integrity) Brodber says it is a hopeful sign that both male and female leaders are prioritizing this issue “could be a catalyst for many People who may feel that these issues are not prioritized. ” A number of MPs, including a man, expressed their support for repealing the legislation.

Jamaicans have debated this issue for decades without resolution, and like Argentina and Ireland, they face strong opposition to any less restrictive legislation than the Church. This is similarly the case across the region.

Barbados, Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines allow abortions to save a woman’s life as well as mental health and social and economic well-being. Cuba, Guyana, Uruguay and Puerto Rico allow abortions without restrictions. It is still banned for any reason in six countries, while nine others only allow it for the purpose of saving a woman’s life, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Juliet Cuthbert Flynn is Secretary of State in the Health and Wellness Department of the majority Jamaican Workers’ Party. In 2018, she applied to repeal the legislation criminalizing termination. This proposal was discussed at the committee level, but the proposal died in the matter paper with the dissolution of Parliament last September to hold elections. Cuthbert Flynn says she is working on the policy level to push the issue again. Meanwhile, the women remain, she says. “These are the women who present with the complications of a failed miscarriage,” she says. “I think we as parliamentarians need to understand our role and discuss laws, even if they are to spark controversy.”

Natalie Campbell Rodricks, Senator from the majority Jamaican Workers’ Party, agrees.

“Personally, my view is that this is something we should be on the table, especially for women,” she says. “Observing our bodies is not something for me.”

Unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of maternal death in Jamaica, and according to estimates, there are between 6,000 to 22,000 women who terminate a pregnancy annually. While it appears that no one has been imprisoned, at least one doctor has been imprisoned Arrested To have a 12-year-old girl terminated.

While the United Nations Population Fund does not promote abortion, it seeks to decriminalize it, prioritize family planning efforts, address the consequences of unsafe abortion, and efforts that focus on a common understanding of human rights enshrined in many treaties and agreements.

“I think we have to be honest,” says Broadber of the United Nations Population Fund. “This is not a straightforward and dry issue.” It’s a tough conversation, so it’s going to be discussed for a long time. We still do not give priority yet to the same shared understanding of human rights and women’s rights in particular, ”she says, adding that Jamaica is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which highlights the right to reproductive freedom.

The implications of restrictive legislation have many consequences, from the stigmatization of women who have interrupted pregnancy, to the financial and emotional costs, to potential health risks. The legislation also affects disproportionately poor and rural women, who do not have the same access as their wealthy urban counterparts.

For the past several years, a Jamaican activist has been collecting stories from women who have miscarried. One of these women describes having it performed twice, one in 2015 and the other in 2107.

“I went down Bandolo Road and as expected I nearly died … The pain I felt that night was I could push my head across a grill without feeling it.” The woman wrote: It was the worst night of my life.

These are the stories that make the case come to life, beyond numbers, and a report released on February 4 clarifies the reality.

Leanne Levers, advocacy director at the Caribbean Institute for Research and Policy, which has just released an EU-funded report The Cost of Unequal Access to Safe Abortion in Jamaica, says the legislation has dire consequences: “People undergo abortions regardless of legality. Implementing it in an unsafe manner that has serious health and social repercussions for women, children and the wider community, which comes at an economic cost. “

The Capri report made three main recommendations, including a secret vote of conscience to decriminalize and make abortion legal upon request; Access to abortion by minors without parental consent and publicly funded abortion.

The report, which aims to remove the discourse and provide people with evidence-based research to make decisions based on it, found that there is a cost of US $ 1.4 million in lost economic output to caring for women who have had unsafe abortions. A constituent of Cuthbert Flynn Died A failed abortion, and I vowed to keep trying to make a difference.

I am a member of Parliament, so my first role as a parliamentarian is to make laws and make laws. This is my first job, so if I’m not prepared to do that, and look at the laws that were enacted in 1864, I’m not sure why I’m there. “

For her part, Cathbert Flynn is hopeful that Argentine legislation can help bring about change, but she says people need to have their voices heard, especially in light of a vocal lobbying group against decriminalizing groups representing Jamaican churches. She says that she has been subjected to some threats on social media, but has not experienced any threat to her person.

“I think civil society needs to go out and talk, the church is talking. We hear more and more voices there, but they have to do like Argentina. People have really gone out and rallied for this, and tried to achieve it. I was shocked with them and with Ireland to see a Catholic community (change Legislation). It took people to go out and be active. “

Women’s rights activist Nadine Spence says threats to the church to protest against abortion and vote for supportive politicians are irrelevant.

“I am not even interested in the church, I am interested in what I see as the laziness of our politicians.”

Elsewhere in the region, the Dominican Republic shares with Jamaica the distinction between the most restrictive legislation in the world.

Abortion completely illegalWomen who induce an abortion can be imprisoned for up to two years, while medical providers face up to 20 years. Celine Soto, senior attorney at WomenLink Worldwide, an NGO focused on human rights, says recent Argentine legislation “We generally think this has had an impact, because these cases are important, and they’re still on the agenda because of an event in Argentina. “, as you say. Activists in the Dominican Republic are pressing for, at a minimum, the inclusion of three exceptions in which the ban on abortion can be lifted: rape, the mother’s life at risk and the fetus not viable. “We believe that a ban or a complete restriction is inconsistent with human rights standards that have been well established by many international mechanisms,” Soto says.

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service


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