First published in The Tribune under the byline, Young Man's View.
IN the 21st century, Bahamian women should have open access to safe and legal abortions. Abortion, however, must be seen as a last resort, that should only be considered conditionally rather than carried out in willy-nilly fashion.
According to Colliers Encyclopedia, abortion is the ‘expulsion or removal from the uterus of a fetus before it has attained viability, that is, before the born infant with appropriate life support, has become capable of surviving and eventually maintaining an independent life outside the uterus.’
Although our government’s position on abortion is not explicitly defined, most people assume that it is illegal. It is well-known that scores of Bahamian women with unplanned pregnancies go to desperate measures to perform an abortion on themselves or find a medical practitioner who would surreptitiously conduct an abortion. I am told that due to the contentious and seemingly illicit nature of an abortion, doctors risking their licenses carrying out this procedure could charge anywhere from $200-$500 depending on the stage of a pregnancy. It is also known that Bahamian women frequently travel to the US to have abortions!
To be frank, much of the crime occurring in our society nowadays is at the hands of poorly socialized brutes who were unwanted children likely born to teenage or unfit parents that could not have an abortion. Indeed, many of these errant individuals come from homes where they were never cultured or taught values, particularly as their parents saw/see them as unnecessary burdens and mistakes, and have thereby rejected them.
While I consider myself to be pro-choice, in I believe that a woman has a right to individual liberty and reproductive freedom, I am opposed to the notion that abortion should occur every time a women gets pregnant or should serve as an excuse for licentiousness.
In addition to advocating for women’s reproductive rights, I believe that in a
developing country such as the Bahamas, citizens should have comprehensive access to sex education, that contraceptives such as the morning after pill should be readily available, and that women should be legally protected from any form of forced abortions.
In Bahamian society, whether legal or not, abortions will happen. With this in mind, we must become conscious that an abortion carried out under medially sound conditions is safer than an abortion done in a dark alley or some shadowy backroom without medical oversight! It is widely known that due to seeming restrictions and the stigmatization associated with having an abortion, many Bahamian women have used homemade methods such as drinking “hot guinness”, beating themselves on the abdomen with a “cold” hanger, drinking bitters and salt water, etc.
While I support a woman’s right to choose, it is my belief that abortions should only be considered in instances where a woman is raped; when her life or the life of the fetus is at risk due to health concerns; when contraceptives have proven futile; to terminate teenage pregnancies and to abort pregnancies in cases when a woman feels she’s unable to raise a child.
Many countries throughout the developed world have legalized abortion. The Bahamas, I feel, should follow suit in its push to enter the stratosphere of the developed countries. In the US, for example, the landmark 1973 case—Roe v. Wade—led to the decriminalization of abortion by that nation’s Supreme Court after a woman challenged the Texas laws that classified an abortion as a criminal offence. European countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Spain and Poland have not only recognized abortion by legalizing it, but have also actively promoted sex education.
In late 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (US) approved the over-the-counter use of the ‘morning after’ (Plan B) pill, which permits women (18 or older) to purchase the emergency contraceptive after a night of unprotected sex. As was expected, the usual suspects—the vocal-when-convenient Bahamas Christian Council—immediately flew into action, arguing that Bahamian women should not have this choice. The BCC vowed to fight any law that proposed to make the Plan B pill available—over the counter—in local pharmacies. The BCC administrative assistant, CB Moss, told the Guardian that the council stood firmly against any kind of abortion.
How can the BCC, with their very own moral dilemmas, argue that women in a democratic nation such as the Bahamas cannot have access to a contraceptive? Why is it that the BCC speedily and opportunely seems to find it voice only when issues such as abortion or homosexuality arise? It is phony and patently hypocritical that this group of ‘religious men’ can sound off about the aforementioned topics, but seem to be mum and blind to the reality of our chaotic, crime riddled society and the immoral lifestyles (eg sweet hearting) within their ranks. Really, lets open the Pandora’s Box that not only highlights the woes of our society, but also the immorality plaguing the church and its myriad of self-appointed Reverend Doctors, apostles, prophets, presidents and first ladies, etc!
In August this year, the “moral legislators” at the BCC were joined in their opposition to abortion by none other than former Works Minister Bradley Roberts who exuded an air of sanctimony in his condemnation of abortion. Mr Roberts claimed that little was being done by the church to stem the number of Bahamian women that had abortions. He appealed to the church to actively bring to the country’s attention the belief that abortions are “morally wrong.”
“We abhor 50 people being murdered so far for the year,” he said. “But we remain silent and appear to be content when murder is being carried out the clinical way at an alarming rate in our country, in our health care facilities.”
As it relates to a woman’s right to choose, in a true democracy, we must advocate tolerance although we may disagree with a person’s choice. When it comes to abortion a woman must be free to make choices—of course, all within reason!
Homelessness: A Social Crisis!
The crisis of homelessness must be immediately addressed by the necessary government agencies and the community at large.
Throughout Nassau, seeing a homeless person pushing a trolley or walking the street in dirty clothes has become a regular spectacle on almost every street corner. In many instances, many of the vagabonds creeping about the streets are “coke and dope heads” whose drug use caused them their jobs, families and friends.
On several occasions, I have found myself being hassled for a quarter at a gas station or while waiting on a street light. I recall an incident when I gave a beggar 75 cents only to hear him demand more and subsequently cuss me when I refused. I am aware that in many instances, the money donated to street beggars are used to acquire drugs!
The level of poverty, homelessness and unemployment in the Bahamas is astounding. It appears that there is little to no social security measures put in place to assist the poor people calling our streets home.
As the number of drifters on our streets grows, I feel urged to call on families to intervene and rescue their loved ones from their destitute lifestyles. It might be a stretch of the imagination, but both the government and the private sector can initiate job fairs targeting the poor and impoverished, even if it means offering menial jobs such as picking up and recycling bottles from the roadsides.
Homelessness is a social crisis in this country and needs to be forthrightly addressed!