I invite Fr Hardless to join the advisory board
Stabroek News
December 6, 2001

Dear Editor,

Through your columns I wish to make a public response to Fr Keith Hardless' call for an assessment of the impact of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1995.

Before and since the enactment of this new law, Fr Hardless has raised several salient concerns. Will abortions increase? Will the law erode moral standards? Will it overburden public facilities? Will the law erode interest in family planning? Will the law make abortion be seen as a method of family planning? Will the law be a terrible signal to young people? The strength of the Guyana law, in fact, was that it made provisions through the Advisory Board to answer these questions.

There can be no question of his deep interest in the theological, moral, ethical and public health aspects of this admittedly controversial policy. I thank Fr Hardless for raising the issues again.

I have recently declared my commitment to implementing the MTP Act. This includes taking action to strengthen the Advisory Board. I believe that the 1995 Act has had a positive impact and the benefits of the Act can be enhanced with more effective implementation. A public consultation is planned for January and the public will have an opportunity to make their judgment.

In this regard, I extend a public invitation to Fr Hardless to join the Board. This will give him complete access to all the available data. It will enable him to propose other studies that can throw light on concerns, which may have escaped our attention. As a member of the Board, he will be well placed to assess the impact of the law and remain free to make public comment on whether it can be enforced or not.

I look forward to his acceptance and, even more, to his constructive engagement in this challenging matter.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Leslie Ramsammy

Minister of Health