Caribbean: Jamaican Churches Speak Against Abortion

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Evangelical Association of the Caribbean

On Ash Wednesday churches in Jamaica spoke out against a proposal before the Government of Jamaica to legalise abortions. According to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper Rev. Peter Garth, president of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals (JAE), stated,
“We express our deep disappointment today on the abortion bill that continues to ignore the realisation that life in the womb starts long before viability,” Rev. Garth went on to say, “Abortion-on-demand, or for reasons for personal convenience, social adjustments or economic advantage, is morally wrong. Therefore, the JAE will fight this present abortion bill from Negril Point to Morant Point.”

Roman Catholic Archbishop His Grace the Most Rev. Donald Reece, speaking on behalf of the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC), noted that the project to liberalise abortion in Jamaica militates against the deeply held values of Jamaica as a nation and is also contrary to the law of God. “The people of Jamaica have not asked for abortion, the churches have not asked for it nor have the vast majority of civic groups or their leaders,” said the Archbishop. Rev. Reece also urged government to implement obstetric care for mothers in rural areas, provide abstinence education for young people, and implement programmes for family strengthening, according to the Gleaner report.

The Laws of Jamaica currently make abortion illegal, except in some cases of medical emergency. According to Section 72 of the Offences Against the Person Act, anyone found guilty of having or facilitating an abortion could be sentenced to life in prison, with or without hard labour. However, it is estimated that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 abortions performed annually in Jamaica.

The church leaders’ comments came after the report of the Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group was laid in Parliament during January. That group was given the mandate to develop a policy for "safe abortions." The report recommended, among other things, that an authorised medical practitioner may perform abortions up to the 12th week of pregnancy in registered facilities and that abortions between 12 and 22 weeks of gestation be only performed in hospital facilities and be done or supervised by a specialist.

Rev. Gerald A. Seale, DD,
General Secretary and CEO,
Evangelical Association of the Caribbean,
41 Excel Road, Elizabeth Park, Christ Church BB15092, Barbados,
Tel: 1-246-427-9746
Web Site: www.caribbeanevangelical.org
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