Women die because public hospitals do not provide abortions
Stabroek News
January 14, 2002

Dear Editor,

Ms Joan Collins suggests that the mere fact of making abortion legal has removed the stigma of abortion (SN 01 10). I wish she was right, but she is not.

She is correct in pointing out that the claims of reduced abortion related mortality, of reduced abortions and of an empty Slip and Fell Ward have not been achieved.

But she did not ask why? A law by itself can deliver none of those benefits. The simple truth is that the government that passed that law has done virtually nothing by way of implementing the law.

It has not educated the public about the new law; it has not trained nurses and doctors in counselling, it has not trained doctors in methods of abortion that reduce the risk to the mother; and it has not prosecuted persons who provide illegal abortions.

Legality is one thing, access to medical care is another. To date, the real beneficiaries of the law have been middle class women and medical practitioners.

Until the government provides a service that enables poor women with unwanted pregnancies to terminate them in dignity, in public hospitals, none of the potential of the law will be realized.

Fortunately, the current Minister of Health has at least promised to provide such services. If he does, Ms Collins will soon see the difference it makes to womenĘs health.

And yes, Ms Collins, under similar medical conditions, an early abortion is 11 20 times safer than birth at term. This is a matter of medical record and research, not opinion.

Yours faithfully,

Elizabeth Carter