Jamaica Parliament Views Graphic Abortion Videos While Considering Decriminalizing Abortion

By Jonquil Frankham

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 14, 2008 ( – Members of the Joint Select Parliamentary Committee of Jamaica squirmed with unease in their seats – some even leaving the room – while watching a video depicting various abortion procedures.

The video was shown during a presentation by Dr. Doreen Brady West of the Coalition for the Defense of Life, which is working to maintain sections 72 and 73 of Jamaica’s Offences Against the Person Act. These sections currently penalize anyone who obtains, performs, or helps obtain an abortion with a sentence of up to life in prison.

The Act is under scrutiny following the findings of an advisory group established in 2005. The advisory group, authorized in 2005 by former Health Minister John Junor to address maternal mortality among Jamaican teenagers, found that illegal and unsafe abortions were responsible for a significant number of mothers’ deaths.

In response the advisory group suggested a Termination of Pregnancy Act to supplant sections 72 and 73 of the Offenses Against the Person Act.

Dr. Brady West, however, argues that illegal abortions are only “a minor contributor to direct maternal deaths,” and challenges the advisory group’s suggestion that the legalization of abortion will decrease the maternal mortality rate.

Numerous groups and individuals, most prominently former abortionist Bernard Nathanson, have charged that pro-abortion groups routinely massively overinflate numbers relating to maternal mortality via illegal abortions as a tactic to push for the legalization of abortion.

In an interview this past July, Nathanson explained that while working as an abortionist with pro-abortion groups, "We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions. …The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300. And we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

West says that the solution lies in better antenatal care, reports The Jamaica Observer. Referring to the correlation between widespread access to abortion and sexual abuse, West told the Parliamentary Committee that better antenatal care would help decrease instances of sexual exploitation and ensure adequate punishment for sex offenders. It would also, she said, minimize maternal deaths.

The film portion of the physician’s presentation, called “riveting” by, caused many members to shift about in their seats and look at the ground. RadioJamaica reports that current Health Minister Ruddy Spencer and Senator Sandra Faulkner left the room during the viewing, while other members openly turned their heads away from the screen.

87,000 Jamaicans who signed a petition against repealing sections 72 and 73 of the Offenses Against the Person Act will wait until next Thursday for the parliament to continue their deliberations.

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