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Proposed abortion laws could undermine parental authority

July 28, 2008

Concerns have been raised that proposed legislation crafted from the recommendations of the abortion policy advisory review group could usurp the Child Care and Protection Act, if it gets the stamp of approval from Parliament.

Dr Doreen Brady-West who is based at the department of pathology at the University of the West Indies, says the proposal, which states that competent minors under the age of 16 should be allowed to have abortions without the knowledge of their parents, would undermine parental authority. Under Section 5 of the bill, entitled the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2007, it is proposed that a minor be allowed to have an abortion without parental consent.

Brady-West, who staunchly opposes abortion, told The Gleaner the reference was detrimental on several counts.

"It contradicts the Child Care and Protection Act at a legal level, it undermines most seriously parental authority and makes a mockery of the fact that the minor cannot consent to sexual intercourse and then consent to an abortion," she said.

Contradictory positions

Women's Advocate and attorney-at-law Margaret Macauley stressed that the proposed change to the legislation was not one that the advisory committee created, but a policy decision approved by Cabinet almost two years before the review body was formed.

Macauley said the advisory group, which she was a member of in 2007, followed the directive of Cabinet, which referenced the Gilick case in England in 1985, whereby the House of Lords ruled that a minor could secure medical services and advice without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Macauley conceded that the policy proposed in the bill presented contradictory positions....

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Author: Tendai Franklyn-Brown
Source: Jamaica Gleaner


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