Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Evenly split - Men and women support termination of pregnancy in 'special' circumstances

Published:Wednesday | May 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
The Reverend Sean Major-Campbell.

(The Johnson Survey Research Limited poll on ‘A Woman’s Right to Choose’was sponsored by The Gleaner, the Ministry of Health and the National Health Fund.)

Thirty-five per cent of Jamaican women have said that they supported terminating a pregnancy at any time if the foetus is not able to survive by itself outside the womb. A third of men shared the same view.

That's the finding of an all-island poll conducted by Johnson Survey Research Limited between April 27 and 29 on a woman's right to choose. Johnson asked 1,000 Jamaicans between the ages of 15 and 49 to respond to the question: "A woman should have control over her body and be able to terminate a pregnancy if she wants to at any time as long as the foetus is not able to survive by itself out of the womb. Do you strongly agree with this, or do you agree, but not strongly, or do you disagree, or do you strongly disagree?"

The poll, which has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent, found almost an even split. It revealed that 34 per cent of all respondents said that they agreed. In addition, 35 per cent of women and 33 per cent of men said that they agreed strongly.

Eighteen per cent of overall respondents said that they disagreed, with 16 per cent of men and 19 per cent of women also disagreeing. In addition, 10 per cent of total respondents, 13 per cent of men and seven per cent of women, said that they strongly disagreed.

 

ADDRESS IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

 

In commenting on the poll findings, Cecil Facey, pastor of the Spanish Town-based Holiness Christian Fellowship, said that he disagreed that a woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy at any time so long as the foetus was not able to survive by itself out of the womb.

"I disagree, because there are other issues involved. From a Christian perspective, we have to address those. Questions such as how old is the foetus and how will [the abortion] affect the mother after the fact, even though she may have that right, needs to be considered," Facey told The Gleaner.

On the other hand, controversial Anglican cleric, Father Sean Major-Campbell, strongly agreed.

"I strongly agree that a woman should be able to terminate a pregnancy if she wants to at any time, as long as the foetus is not able to survive by itself out of the womb," he said.

Major-Campbell added: "The question demands more than a simple 'yes' or 'no' - 'agree' or 'disagree', though. On the face of it, it does seem to be a simple question about abortion. However, such a decision is often surrounded by complex issues."

The cleric said that he had never met a woman who easily came to a decision concerning the discontinuation of a pregnancy. He reasoned that knowing what he knows now in 2018, the broad area of sexual and reproductive health rights of women deserved tremendous regard and respect.

"We ought, of necessity, to promote more regard for women as persons with the capacity to make informed decisions," Major-Campbell said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com