By Terry Vanderheyden

KINGSTON, Jamaica, January 10, 2006 ( – Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston, Lawrence Burke, has criticized a proposal to make abortion legal, emphasizing that contrary to claims, maternal health is best served by locking up those who are responsible for high maternal mortality rates – the individuals who perform illegal abortions.

“Prosecute the persons who do illegal abortions and shut them down. If a person wants an illegal abortion, it is public knowledge where they are done,” he said in an interview with the Jamaica Sunday Observer. “Prosecute those people and that will decrease the maternal mortality rate.”

The Medical Association of Jamaica supports a change to the law, now under review by government committee, claiming that legalizing abortion will bring down the maternal mortality rate. The government there proposed the measure after hearing that 16% of teenage mothers who abort their children were dying from the procedure.

“The [proposed] law practically allows abortion on demand, whether it threatens the mental health of the mother. It is not defined,” the Archbishop said.