Sunday, July 5, 2009

Women's Rights vs the Religious Right

Every woman should have the right to regulate the number of children she bears. In some countries, this statement is indubitable, the resolution of a long fought women’s rights movement. Framing discussion about abortion around its perceived immorality is convenient for the pious among us, for Jamaicans are so-called religious people, whose knowledge of scripture will mandate their rejection of laws supporting a woman’s right to abort an embryo. This approach is retarding the women’s rights movement, in a sexist society where the patriarchal oppression of women is commonplace.

We speak superficially of gender equality, but Jamaica is far from the ideal. The high rates of sexual abuse, in the home and workplace, sexual assault and rape perpetuated against women speak volumes to the grave inequalities, which still prevail. Further, the degree to which our women are objectified, commodified, and de-humanized in popular culture, is a good measure of the slight with which many regard women. Concerning abortion, we continue to hear multifarious horror stories about women who regret having one, but few accounts of women who illegally aborted embryos, then went on to lead successful lives with children that have loving and emotionally stable parents.

A recent report published in the Gleaner says that 70 % of Jamaicans believe that women who become pregnant because of rape should not have an abortion. By propagating such impressive statistics, self-serving moralists seek to deny women the right to control their reproductive capacity. Jamaicans like to talk about ideals, so I am not surprised by the poll results, though they are highly suspect; most will speak out against abortion when prompted, and espouse their preference for adoption. In reality, many of these people would abort an embryo if their circumstances necessitated such action, and are unwilling to adopt a child into their family themselves, for adopted children are widely regarded as inferior to biological ones. Also, what percentage of the individuals polled were male? Begetting children is the marker of manhood in Jamaica, so I expect that Jamaican men should overwhelmingly oppose abortions, which detracts from their ersatz masculinity. This despite the reality that many cannot afford to take care of the multitude of children they lend their sperm to create.

Women’s rights must come from the people, but sadly, the momentum is lacking. Jamaican women deserve better, and the right to determine how many children they have is only one of the privileges they must be allowed. The anti-abortion lobbyists are puppets of a patriarchal oppressor, whose antiquated modus operandi should be rejected by the Jamaican government.


  1. I was wondering how long it would take you to write a response to that story. The mere fact that they said rape, one would expect them to lenient with their prolife stance, but man. Few people adopt children in Jamaica. Would any of that 79% adopt any of the children that were born as a consequence of rape. At the bottom of the news article they ... Read Morepoint out somethings that surrounds abortion but I wasn't surprise to see that they left out the number of women who die as a result of complications during delivery. They are literally want to force women to have kids. And on top of that, its men that are pushing this issue forward. We has men shouldn't even have that much of a say in the whole abortion issue. Its the woman's choice plain and simple.
    And on top of what you said, I wonder how many of the 70% are really women.

  2. I hear you seekdiansa. I feel like things and times are changing though, because there is definitely a great debate going on in Jamaica about abortion and LGBT issues, with passionate people and arguments on both sides of the divide. This is encouraging.


  4. Your comment doesn't deserve a response, but...

    There is no objective answer to the abortion question. We each have our own opinions, and that fact should be respected. If you feel the need to comment on my post, do so with politesse, and try to focus on the points made in the post as opposed to ranting about how evil you believe pro-choice people are.

    If my mother had aborted me I would not be here to ponder that question. It's foolish to suggest that how I perceive my life now should have any bearing on how I would view my mother's decision to perform an abortion. Further, I'm sure there are people in the world would rather that their parent had made more sensible decisions, and left them in no-man's land where there was no hunger, or pain.

    It's funny how you assume that the woman who terminates a pregnancy is economically dependent on a husband/ boyfriend. If you disagree with you're partner's decision perhaps it is you who might have to leave the house. Based on your response it is not far-fetched to draw the conclusion that you regard women as inferior, and believe you have the ultimate right to decide about what happens to your would be child.

    Murder is the premeditated killing of one human being by another. When did we arrive at a universal resolution that weeks old fetuses are 'human beings'?

    The time spent bashing people who disagree with your opinion would be better spent encouraging couples to use contraception, and exercise family planning. I think that is one ideal that most of us can agree upon. Terminating a pregnancy is hardly ever a first resort for a woman who is not able to bring a pregnancy to full term. Exercise some sensitivity, and encourage 'men' like yourself to wear condoms and perform a vasectomy when your family is no longer able to adequately care for more children.

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