The clock on abortion isn't ticking yet
Stabroek News
December 3, 2001

Dear Editor,

Fr. Keith Hardless' request for a Select Committee to assess the effectiveness of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act is not unreasonable (SN Nov. 31).

Of course, there is nothing to assess. The law was passed because poor women who could not afford private medical care, were being harmed by back-street providers.

The fact that six years after the law our public hospitals have not provided a service, means that the state has not given the law any real effect.

As I understood your report, that is precisely what Dr. Ramsammy intends to change (SN Nov 20).

The clock for assessing the impact of the law can start ticking only when one public hospital begins providing a service to poor women, not before.

Fr. Hardless will find that once a public service is available, it will need far less resources from overburdened hospitals. The purely physical aspect of an early abortion can be effectively conducted in 15-20 minutes, while treating a complication of abortion often requires two or more days of hospitalization.

Given Fr. Hardless' interest in assessing the law and Dr. Ramsammy's determination to strengthen the Advisory Board, the Minister of Health should invite the minister of religion to sit on the Board. That would give Fr. Hardless a perfect opportunity to observe how the law can work if the Ministry cares to implement it; or to argue for its reversal if implementation is ineffectual.

Fr. Hardless' call is not unreasonable; it is simply premature. His call is important and should be welcomed by all sides in this controversial policy.

Yours faithfully,

Zelina Sukhdeo