Restrictive abortion laws harm women in Jamaica

The Jamaica Family Planning Association in its 50 years of service to Jamaica has become acutely aware of the practice of unsafe abortions among many of our females. It is our opinion that restrictive abortion laws contribute to this practice with their devastating impact on the lives and well-being of women in Jamaica.

At the global level, this is an issue of enormous proportion. In 2006, an estimated 19 million women and girls worldwide, faced with unintended pregnancies, experienced the harmful consequences of unsafe abortions. Each year, some 70,000 of these women and girls die, and hundreds of thousands of others are left with debilitating and frequently lifelong injuries. More than 96 per cent of these women come from the world’s poorest nations.

In Jamaica, there is an obvious truth being ignored. Criminalising and restricting abortion does not reduce its incidence; rather, it forces women to seek risky procedures that endanger their lives. It is a public health tragedy that women continue to die or suffer from complications from unsafe abortions. If we do not address unsafe, illegal abortion in Jamaica, it will continue to affect women’s lives and burden our health sector. When abortion is legal and services are safe and accessible, the chance of a woman dying or being physically harmed from an abortion is negligible. Greater public attention needs to be directed to improving access to safe services and improving women’s health in our country.

Letter published from the Jamaica Family Planning Association – famplan@cwjamaica.com

http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080909/letters/letters1.html



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