Correspondence: Why is abortion seen as immoral in the Caribbean?April 3rd, 2011
‘Why do we see abortion as something that is morally wrong? Are there not circumstances where it is justified?’ asks Jo-Annah Richards, a 25-year-old from the island of Montserrat.
The decision any woman makes over whether to have an abortion is one that is highly emotional and very personal to her. Yet opinions on abortion within the Caribbean community are very passionate – and public.
Generally most women who have an abortions are condemned, stigmatised and made to feel ashamed. It is a shame and scorn that is very publicly enforced in conversation, and even through music.
Songs assert that any female that carries out an abortion should be victimised and despised. Therefore many women find the idea of them having an abortion unthinkable, as it will result in her forever hanging her head in shame.
Consequently, when many women are faced with the situation of becoming a teenage mother, or a mother who cannot provide, they are placed in difficult situation. They are faced with a heart-aching decision of whether to have a child they don’t want and may forever resent, or having an abortion.
Should it not be for each woman to make a decision that is best for them than feeling they have to conform to the whims of society?
Many women however live in torment after having an abortion, afraid that someone will find out and that she will be demeaned and condemned. They are afraid to speak to anyone, fearing it will result in them being judged.
Why is the Caribbean community so against abortion?
Many have the notion that having gone through slavery we should preserve our race. Many also think that abortions are usually the result of promiscuity. But what about the naive young girls who don’t realise they can become pregnant the first time they have sex? Is it fair for them to raise a child when they didn’t realise the result of their actions?
Many resoundingly believe that no one has the right to take a life. Could it just be the perceived notion that we are killing our own nation and we need as many for our own survival? This would mean that the countless slave mothers that aborted their unborn children to save them from a world that seemed too cruel should not be seen as an act of love.
‘Why do we see abortion as something that is morally wrong? Are there not circumstances where it is justified? Is it fair for a 12-year-old child to carry a baby for 9 months and raise a child that is the outcome of her being raped? She has already been aggressively violated and has to forever live with a physical reminder.
Is it fair that so many young women have taken their own lives rather than have an abortion? Is it fair for a young mother whose life is threatened by that of her unborn child to have to die, as abortion is not an option?
In a society that speaks of equality and freedom of choice, is it not sad that a woman can become imprisoned by her own thoughts? Depressed and broken by the decision to have an abortion for she feels she is not fit to be a mother.
Is it not more important for a child to be born to a woman that is equipped to be a mother, than to one that is resentful and bitter towards an innocent child? Is it not a greater evil for a child to be brought into this world by a woman that cannot guide, parent or love them adequately?
In a society that is so close-minded with regards to an issue that affects the mothers of our nation and the nurturers of our future, is it not time to take a different view towards the issue?
Is it not time to provide more education on the issue and address the reasons abortion may become an option to a woman? Issues such as lack of sexual education, poverty and rape. Is it not essential for women to be able to access non-judgemental help where they have undergone an abortion?
In this, we could provide women with the opportunity to deal with their emotional, physical and psychological burdens. We could give them the opportunity to not feel victimised.
Is it not the most potent and important thing that, no matter our opinions, everyone has freedom of choice?
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?