Abortion is every woman’s right

When I entered parliament in 1976 as the only female member, I took a stand and managed to do what many countries have failed to do, or are threatening to undo: decriminalise abortion.

Recently, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile succeeded in advancing legislation that made abortion legal under certain circumstances. Chile’s new law is only a first step in providing full access to safe abortion care, but it is a momentous change that required the vision of a strong, outspoken, female leader who took a stand on saving women’s lives.

Stories like these are all too rare. Far from campaigning for the rights and health of their constituents, many politicians are bent on taking them away. In countries as diverse as the US, South Africa and Brazil, policymakers are proposing bills that would deny women and girls the right to determine their own future. To resist these efforts requires perseverance, carefully crafted policy and insistent voices. My home country, Barbados – which has a population smaller than most cities – can share some insight on this.

When governments deny women access to safe and legal abortion, it does nothing to decrease the rate at which abortions occur. Instead, it leads to more injuries and deaths. In the absence of care, women resort to all kinds of methods to interrupt unintended pregnancies – unqualified healthcare providers, self-made drug concoctions, coat hangers – each more dangerous than the next.

In Barbados, before we changed the law, women and healthcare providers could be criminally prosecuted for seeking or assisting with abortion services. At the time, I would read the obituary sections of newspapers and highlight the deaths of young women. Their deaths haunted those of us on the frontline, for we suspected many were caused by unsafe abortions.

This was, and in many countries still is, a public health emergency. Unplanned pregnancies are a reality, especially when women don’t have sufficient access to family planning methods or when they are victims of sexual violence. Womenaround the world die or suffer needlessly when governments restrict their access to critical healthcare.

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Barbados’s parliament had considered the issue before, but never found the will to replace the punitive, colonial-era law. When I became the minister of health – the first woman ever to hold a cabinet position – I saw it as an opportunity to change the status quo.

I was vastly outnumbered – an experience that remains all too familiar to many female leaders. But I spoke out and sought to persuade my male colleagues. If they were serious about improving health for women in Barbados, this was an issue they could not ignore. Civil society groups, like the Barbados Family Planning Association, maintained the pressure on my colleagues, noting that the majority of women in our country – young, middle-aged, single, married, mothers and those without children – wanted a full range of options when deciding when and if to start a family or have more children, including whether to continue a pregnancy.

Outside government, I needed broad grassroots support to help the passage of new legislation and ensure its success. Armed with data and women’s stories, I travelled the country and talked to anyone who would listen, including religious leaders, medical providers, social workers and educators. I explained how unsafe abortions were unnecessarily killing women in the prime of their lives, and posed a simple question: “Is preserving our current law worth women’s lives?” The answer, more often than not, was no.

As support grew, it encouraged my government colleagues to recognise safe abortion care as an essential medical service. Finally, in 1983 – seven years after I started my campaign – parliament passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, allowing women throughout the country to access abortion services legally and safely.

This victory made Barbados a regional pioneer, the first English-speaking Caribbean country to make abortion broadly legal, doing away with laws that criminalised women for seeking health services. The act allows the termination of a pregnancy to protect a woman’s life or physical and mental health, for economic and social reasons, in pregnancies resulting from rape, and in cases where the foetus suffers severe abnormalities. Beyond just passing the law, we worked with providers to ensure these services would be accessible to all.

Over the next 25 years, our maternal mortality ratio plummeted by 53%, turning Barbados into a regional leader on women’s health.

But the progress we’ve seen here has not been echoed elsewhere. Politicians around the world are promoting policies that force women through pregnancies they do not want to continue. Leaders seem not to know, or not to care, about the consequences of these actions. Each year, an estimated 47,000 women die due to complications from unsafe abortion and 7 million women seek treatment for injuries resulting from risky, unsafe procedures. In countries with legal restrictions on abortion care, political leaders are condemning women to suffer injuries or death.

On International Day for Safe Abortion, we are reminded that saving women’s lives requires resistance and persistence.

In Barbados, I spoke out. Many women and

62 Responses to Abortion is every woman’s right

  1. Rubertha Blackman
    Rubertha Blackman October 3, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Every woman right to choose how she lives and I support womens lib 100%

    Reply
  2. Ann Batey
    Ann Batey October 3, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    I do believe it is a personal choice not one I could do but respect other people’s choice

    Reply
  3. Diana Cave
    Diana Cave October 3, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    It do happens , but not a good thing in God’s sight to do . It’s a living life in there God said to increase and multiply the earth , not substract . As far i as i am concern the life of every human being starts within the womb , so aborting that baby is committing murder .

    Reply
    • Lisa De Souza
      Lisa De Souza October 3, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      God also gave mankind free will. He gave us the chance to be #prochoice.

      Reply
    • Marcia Applewhaite
      Marcia Applewhaite October 3, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      GOD GAVE CHOICE, AND THE VERSE CONTINUED, BUT CHOOSE GOOD.

      Reply
    • Lisa De Souza
      Lisa De Souza October 3, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Helping a woman in need is doing good.

      Reply
    • Diana Cave
      Diana Cave October 3, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Lisa not killing an unborn child foetus . Only if it’s a miscarriage or an accident that is acceptable . When you were in your mother’s tummy would you would have like she to abort you . That’s why some people that done is 6 ft under the earth . I know that for sure . Yes it’s your free will to do whatever you wanted to do . But it’s totally wrong , why lie down , stand up etc don’t use protection , get pregnant to then go through that .

      Reply
    • Peter Lowe
      Peter Lowe October 3, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      So if a woman get rape and got pregnant, what should she do?

      Reply
    • Rudy Griffith
      Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      Peter lowe, if a woman gets raped and becomes pregnant, that does not justify killing an innocent baby.
      There is no connection between the unfortunate rape and the fetus right to life.

      Reply
    • Sylvia Sparkling Walrond
      Sylvia Sparkling Walrond October 3, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Are you insane Rudy Griffith I would not want a child from rape I’d say 99%of woman feel the same!

      Reply
    • Peter Lowe
      Peter Lowe October 3, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Rudy Griffith ur talking about an innocent baby….babies got kill during hurricanes and earth quakes too. So who yah gonna blame for that. what about the woman? She has feelings too and it’s her body. Why should she has to raise a child that she get through rape?

      Reply
  4. Lisa De Souza
    Lisa De Souza October 3, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Every woman deserves the right to decide on matters regarding her body. Dame Billie Miller said it best when she broke it down to what is more important? A law or a woman’s life?

    Reply
    • Nikki Bayley
      Nikki Bayley October 3, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      What about the baby’s life. They don’t deserve one?

      Reply
    • Lisa De Souza
      Lisa De Souza October 3, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Then is the baby’s life more important than the woman carrying it?

      Reply
    • Lisa De Souza
      Lisa De Souza October 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Is there any mention of that scenario?

      Reply
  5. Joy Wharton
    Joy Wharton October 3, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Well I guess it’s murder: to let children starve to death; to be beaten to death; to be molested; to live in unhealthy conditions, and subsequently die from them. SMDH !

    Reply
  6. Blessed Bobb
    Blessed Bobb October 3, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Yes women have a right to choose,yet they also have the right to be sexually responsible,and sadly they are those who use abortion as a form of conception and those kind of abortions should never be encouraged.
    We often talk about the rights of the mother,what about the rights of the child or father,we behave like having an abortion is something simple,we are not slaughtering animals,this is a precious life you are getting rid of,no child should have to suffer like this!

    Reply
    • Joy Wharton
      Joy Wharton October 3, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Late term abortions are inhumane, that I can agree.

      Reply
    • Nikki Bayley
      Nikki Bayley October 3, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Correct

      Reply
    • Lisa De Souza
      Lisa De Souza October 3, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      So it’s only the woman who has to be responsible? And falling pregnant is just something she should grin and bear when it was unwanted? Not all women are irresponsible in their sexual practices and to imply such is irresponsible of you.

      Reply
    • Rubertha Blackman
      Rubertha Blackman October 3, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      I like to hear men play moral authority but yet are just a sperm doner or more appropriately just was looking for two wuk ups and squeeze pouch. Give it a rest off the soap box its making a dull thud especially when most men disappear when they hear the words am pregnant. Btw before you assume am bitter it maybe happen to me nope. I have no children and have never been pregnant but I have encounter some slimy men who thought I was watching the biological clock. I got rid of them with these beautiful words first comes marriage then babies, they ran faster than Usain Bolt. So spear me the soap box please.

      Reply
    • Marcelyn Belle
      Marcelyn Belle October 3, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      What do you know?

      Reply
  7. Romena Bruce
    Romena Bruce October 3, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    There needs to be a harder push on abstinence and contraceptives. People are too willing to use abortion as a contraceptive.

    Reply
  8. janette reifer October 3, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Having sex without some form of protection, the possibility exist you will become pregnant. This is being taught for years. So where is the excuse? Why wait until the baby have fingers and toes to abort.
    Use some form of contraceptives or/ abstaine. In other words, keep your legs shut!

    Reply
  9. Alisa Cox-West
    Alisa Cox-West October 3, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    What I deem moral for myself should not have any bearings on what another woman does with her life and body. I am pro-life for myself, but I’m definitely pro-choice for women to be able to make their own decisions. Yes I am a Christian but who the hell am I to condemn someone who does not share my beliefs? You win more souls with understanding and love, not condemnation! Mind your business and worry about your own uterus!

    Reply
  10. Byrone Browne
    Byrone Browne October 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    A lot of women now a days have ‘grave yard pussy’ because they kill so many babies inside them, because of your rights nonsense. Shame on you for prompting grave yard pussy practice.

    Reply
    • Tricia Mondore
      Tricia Mondore October 3, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      And you sir are an idiot, kindly step away from the computer.

      Reply
    • Byrone Browne
      Byrone Browne October 3, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      like I said, grave yard.

      Reply
    • Rudy Griffith
      Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Boom!

      Reply
    • Barbadosbelle October 4, 2017 at 5:31 am

      .

      What an incredibly disrespectful and uneducated comment.
      Shame on you, sir.

      .

      Reply
  11. Charmaine October 3, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    I am for pro-choice and MOST definitely safe abortions. I am going to go a step further. If I or any lady has 3 or more children and wish to have their tubes tied, even if in their 20’s this should be allowed.
    Do you know how many women in their 20’s have 6 children? And they going on having children, to sad for the children as we all know that we can not look after this many children and offer what we all want for our children, good food, good schooling and the opportunity for progress.
    We can no longer expect the government to help as, there are no Government housing to fit a family of this size, we do not want children to be brought up in a children home. So ‘Tie the tubes’ if it is requested. We now have excellent Doctors that can reverse if absolutely necessary.
    Then there will be no one jumping up and down saying you using abortion as family planning.

    Reply
  12. Rudy Griffith
    Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Abortion is the highest and most severe level of Child abuse and domestic violence against innocent kids.
    It is straight up homicide and definitely murder…..
    Women, stop killing the youth and making your womb a burial ground…..wunnah…..yeah !

    Reply
  13. Rudy Griffith
    Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    What about the rights of the unborn human fetus???
    What about the rights of a father??
    What would your spiritual leader say about the murder of babies ??
    I am done……cheese on bread !!

    Reply
    • Roxanne Why
      Roxanne Why October 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      Unless the fetus can live without assistance, it’s just that, a fetus… Outsiders have a lot to say, and when an actual child is born, these same people are no where to be found when help is needed…

      Reply
    • Rudy Griffith
      Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      A fetus is a young human.
      Outsiders?…Do you mean fathers ?
      Abortion is bad.
      What if Mary had decided to murder Jesus by Abortion ??
      Abortion is not a right.
      Abortion is a crime against humanity……and leaves psychological damage on the woman…….wunnah !

      Reply
    • Rudy Griffith
      Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      I getting warmup now…..Most of wunnah are Christians…..so….How could a Christian be for Abortion……
      Your Spiritual leader Jesus is totally against Abortion.

      Reply
    • Roxanne Why
      Roxanne Why October 3, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      Get warmed up if you wish… Put angry faces… Facts will always remain true, and your point of view is irrelevant… Somewhere between 7 to 8 months a fetus can traverse birth and become a viable separate entity… That is a fact. So go get the burners if you need to, that will ALWAYS be the truth…

      Reply
    • Rudy Griffith
      Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Smoke coming outta my ears now….Our main difference is in the definition of a fetus and when it becomes a human.
      Old argument…..You seem to deviate with your lil science lesson.
      As stated, l believe that life begins at conception.

      Reply
    • Rudy Griffith
      Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      My hair on fire……What is your religious concept on abortion ?
      Would your Saviour want you to indulge in abortion??
      Uh gotcha trapped !

      Reply
    • Rory Elliot
      Rory Elliot October 3, 2017 at 6:45 pm
      Reply
  14. Rory Elliot
    Rory Elliot October 3, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    You seem to be confusing a baby with a foetus. Nobody is talking about murdering babies. We are discussing abortion. Unless you believe a few stem cells could be called a baby

    Reply
  15. Christopher Macauley
    Christopher Macauley October 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    With the morning after pill available. Why are babies still being snuffed out at 4 n 5 n 6 months pregnant. We live in a sick world

    Reply
  16. Diana Cave
    Diana Cave October 3, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Wa loss ! Bryone Browne . You carry it real raw. That maybe why some men you talking about some of them annoying smell when going to interact sexually . I wonder why!!!

    Reply
  17. Rudy Griffith
    Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Fetus lives matter……wunnah !

    Reply
  18. Rudy Griffith
    Rudy Griffith October 3, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Y’all need to stop the murder of the innocents !
    What about a Mother’s love?
    Don’t y’all love the fetus ?
    Ohh…l see …..wunnah love de baby….but not de fetus…..
    Young women, don’t follow these older women and make your womb a graveyard.
    Dat gonna stay with you all your life !

    Reply
    • Barbadosbelle October 4, 2017 at 5:39 am

      .

      Barbados is sadly known for its feckless men.
      Not always ‘bad’ men, but men who do not face up to their responsibilities.
      And, in my experience, these are often the ones that spout the most about how ‘christian’ they are and how important human life is.
      I suspect that you (and the other male ‘anti’ commenters on this post) are possibly of that genre.

      .

      Reply
  19. Sheena JB Twyman-Musgrave
    Sheena JB Twyman-Musgrave October 3, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Chen Griffith

    Reply

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