Women's Issues In Guyana

More public health facilities will be providing an abortion service; is that desirable?

Posted in Commentary,Health Issues by wiig on March 24, 2008
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Stabroek News – March 24, 2008

Dear Editor,

On Al Jazeera news of 25th December we were informed that births in Israel during 2007 was the lowest over the last four years and that during the said year approximately 20000 persons emigrated from Israel, while approximately the same number immigrated to Israel. This, we were led to believe, is a serious concern of the Government of Israel. We know that Canada, in recent years, has been making it easy for outsiders to take up residence there. In Denmark and other Scandinavian countries they are seeking to increase the population by taking measures to encourage citizens to have as many children as possible. Women are offered extremely favorable time away from work, plus tax relief on the birth of every child. Last time I checked they were considering similar time off from work for fathers. All of this became necessary since the population is aging. This aging population was on the cards. Young people in these countries, in keeping with the belief of many in the developed world, that personal material comfort supersedes all else, were inclined to have no more than one or two children, for they perceive children as a burden on their pockets and demanding of their time.

In Guyana, a relatively large country with a small population that is dwindling quickly through migration, wanton murders, road madness and HIV/AIDS, we have made abortion legal. What was the value that guided that decision? Added to this we learn through both the Stabroek News and the Kaieteur News of 1st January 2007 that an increasing number of public health facilities will be providing abortion service. This, we are reminded, is in accordance with the provisions of the Medical Termination Act of 1995. In an attempt at justifying the expansion of this service we are told that persons are seeking the assistance of non professionals to perform the act, thus endangering their lives. This move to make more facilities available for abortions to be done is designed to offer such persons the possibility of accessing a safe alternative. By extending this service therefore, we are in effect strengthening and making clear our support of the right of citizens to have sex without responsibility. Thus in effect, whether intending to or not, encouraging the trivializing of the sex act.

At this point I should make it very clear that I think most Guyanese would concede that for medical reasons, determined by a certified doctor, abortion becomes permissible. Also when pregnancy comes as a result of rape or incest most of us would be uncomfortable with any law that does not allow women, who suffer such violations, the choice of deciding what is to become of the children they carry. However, before they make this decision they should be offered support and alternatives (putting the children up for adoption or placing them in the care of relatives or the state etc) if they decide to take their pregnancy to full term. It is when abortion is used as a method of birth control that it becomes reprehensible. I fear that it is this latter use that most Guyanese put it to.

All the countries I have mentioned so far, as they seek to get their population numbers up, are really taking action that will enhance their country’s stock of skills and knowledge, since it is reasonable to assume that the larger the population the wider the variety of skills available for use in national development. This reasoning also goes for individual families, thus putting the lie to the argument that a family increases its comfort based upon its smallness. The larger the family suggests a larger variety of skills being available to the family, which can be employed for moving the family out of poverty.

Some years ago I read that the then government of Brazil was not very accommodating to the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s (an agency that facilitates abortions) early attempts to set up office there. At that time the Brazilians argued that the west was not mindful of them (the Brazilians) developing a large army which could hold its own against these more powerful nations, that was why they wanted to encourage Brazilians to have small families. In the light of all this, how could Guyana, a country sorely in need of people, seemingly now proudly add state run health facilities to the stock of agencies offering abortion?

Some years ago Miles Munroe, that outstanding Caribbean evangelist, made a profound observation concerning abortion. He said “the best argument against abortion is potential.” In other words he was pointing to the fact that when one aborts, one never knows what one is destroying.

At year ending 31st December 2007 we learnt by way of the Kaieteur News of the 1st January 2008, that at a year end press conference the Minister of Home Affairs revealed that at the end of 2007 the murder rate was 113, the lowest since 2002. Among the steps taken and credited for making this reduction possible was the fact that “during 2007, the police force received $723.5M for capital projects and 3.6M for current; $458.6M was spent for procurement of equipment and 39. 4M for land and water transportation.”

In the Stabroek News of the 1st January 2008 we learnt that for abortions “Annually the figure stood between 4000 and 6000 but abortions are underreported in addition to many of the cases not being captured in the health data collected.” The question therefore is this, why this marked difference in our approach to dealing with loss of life by way of murder on one hand and the loss of life by way of abortion on the other hand?

For years now social workers have understood that very often social problems are interrelated. The fact that young individuals or couples can contemplate taking the life of their own flesh and blood, and be able to do so with state support and assistance, must give young people a different view on the value of life. How then could we be astonished and shocked, when some young people, seemingly with little or no provocation, kill persons they don’t know merely to relieve the stranger of some trifle, or kill a friend because they disagree on some issue?

This inability or unwillingness to recognize the relationship between social problems again reveals itself with this “Stamp it out” campaign. This campaign is aimed at encouraging citizens to make a contribution to law creation, intended to reduce acts of abuse against women and children. This is a worthy intent of a minister, who is energetic and seemingly committed. However, does she or her colleagues in the government, not understand that if, in any way, we as a society, give our young citizens the impression of having little respect for life, then beating girl friends/wives and mistreating children would become less of a big deal to our young men? Does the government, indeed all those who support this callous destruction of life by way of abortion, not understand, that when you help in the destruction of 4000 to 6000 human lives or potential lives each year, it makes your call for us to walk a thousand or a million miles for health sound hypocritical and ridiculous.

Yours faithfully,

Claudius Prince

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