I had an abortion. I killed my child. It was horrific. Now, after all years of trying I still can’t give my husband the family he deserves. I deserve to suffer for my sins, but should he have to as well?
These are just some of the cries of woman after having illegitimate abortions. Abortions by untrained hands often result in women find themselves having lots of complications trying to conceive. In addition, the guilt, the pain, the depression and the potential of future barrenness add to the burden many women face having subjected themselves to ‘getting rid’ of an unwanted child. However, having an abortion is sometimes the only option for a woman with an unwanted pregnancy, especially in cases of rape and an abuse.
This brings us to the recent arrest of a doctor, a mother and a sixteen year old girl for an abortion after a foetus was discovered in the backyard of the women’ house. In Trinidad and Tobago, purposely inflicting a miscarriage on a pregnant woman is considered a crime under the Offences against the Person Act of 3 April 1925, as amended –
“Any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, unlawfully administers to her any noxious thing or unlawfully uses any means is subject to four years’ imprisonment. A woman who undertakes the same act with respect to herself is subject to the same penalty.”
So too is engaging in sexual activity with a minor (unless they are married, but that is another story). Thus, someone has criminally impregnated a young girl and in so doing has led to another ‘crime’ for which these three may now pay the penalty, in seeking to do what they probably think was best. This is quite apart from the mental and physical ramifications that may now wrack the 16 year old as she attempts to move forward with her life.
Back-yard abortions are not only illegal but are also very dangerous. In some cases, women die from untreated infections or can haemorrhage to death as most times this is done quietly without support from family for after care. Many are never sure if they can even get pregnant again because of potential damage to the cervix and internal scarring to the womb. However, we know they are prevalent in T&T despite the illegality of the procedure. Would removal or modification of the law though lead to an end to the “back-yard” risky option and help mitigate potential damage to these women? To get rid of a pregnancy sometime women who are too afraid to find a doctor for risk of being caught sometimes inject poisonous solutions in the womb, or use the abortion pill to induce a miscarriage. Some even inflict physical abuse to themselves or ask their partner to, such is the panic and fear of being caught breaking this law.
Statistics on abortion in Trinidad and Tobago are widely considered to be not accurate as the practice is believed to be more widespread than reported. Abortions are blamed as a major cause of maternal mortality and hospital admissions, as people only appear when the procedure has been botched. While the performance of abortions is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advocated a public-health approach to address unsafe abortions, emphasizing the need the legalization of abortions.
Perhaps with more dialogue we can get to a place where a minor’s entire future is not destroyed due to a moment of weakness where they can fall prey to the desires of a sexual predator who has escaped unscathed leaving a trail of wounds and eternal scars in their wake.