As I mentioned in my blog a few days ago, I am glad that Health Minister Christopher Tufton has decided to address, in a thoughtful and holistic way, the issue of abortion – one that, for various reasons has been repeatedly swept under the carpet in this country. I am thankful too that the issue was raised a few days ago in the Gleaner newspaper.
It is noteworthy that Jamaica failed to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) #4 and #5 (infant mortality and maternal health, respectively) in 2015. The UNDP noted a major increase in maternal deaths from “indirect causes,” including unsafe abortions. One hopes and expects that the Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal and Infant Health in Jamaica (PROMAC) – a Jamaican Government/European Union project – will make a difference. I would like to hear more about this programme.
This is the position of the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC). Let’s address the issue now, taking everything into account – but first and foremost from the perspective of the mother and child’s health and welfare – not someone’s opinion.
November 7, 2017
WROC Says High Number of Illegal Abortions Begs Public Attention
KINGSTON, Jamaica. 7 November 2017: The Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC) has thrown its own weight behind the call for a national discussion on abortions in Jamaica.
WROC’s move comes in the wake of news of a shocking number of women turning up to the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) seeking emergency treatment while either admitting they had attempted abortions or displaying symptoms to suggest that they had.
“We support a call for a wider, national discussion on the issue of maternal health as well as the rights of women and their unborn children,” said Nikeisha Sewell Lewis, executive director for WROC.
According to news reports, “between January and September of this year, of the 1,088 expectant mothers who presented to VJH with bleeding in early pregnancy, 91 admitted to having attempted to abort the foetus while an additional 47 had complications that suggested they had attempted abortion”.
Sewell Lewis is insisting, “We need to stop relegating the issue of abortion to the back room. This information represents a national crisis and is a call to action to all stakeholders.”
Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton has since ordered an abortion audit to include “assessing current family planning methods, including public education, counselling, contraception, fostering, and adoption”.
At the same time, actors working on gender issues in Jamaica have questioned whether existing legislation which makes abortion illegal, is putting women’s lives at risk.
Unsafe abortions are among the common causes of maternal deaths on the island.
Meanwhile, the next few months should provide stakeholders with opportunities to discuss patients’ rights and responsibilities, courtesy of the project dubbed Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal and Infant Health in Jamaica.
The goals of the project are to strengthen patients’ rights and improve the role and effectiveness of civil society in advocacy for maternal, neonatal and infant health.
With offices at 47 Beechwood Avenue in Kingston, Jamaica, the mission of the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre is to create and sustain an organisation grounded in human rights that promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls through engagement in economic, social and political life in the family, community and nation.
For further information, contact:
The Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre