“Too many people in America believe that if you are pro-choice, that means pro-abortion. It doesn’t. I don’t want abortion. Abortion should be the rarest thing in the world. I am actually personally opposed to abortion. But I don’t believe that I have the right to take what is an article of faith to me and legislate to other people. That’s not how it works in America.” U.S. Senator John Kerry b. 1943
In Trinidad and Tobago, pro-abortion advocates are stepping up their campaign to legalize abortion on demand. Politicians appear neutral on the topic of abortion although members of the government who favour a change in the law are not very outspoken.
The main group leading the campaign is Safe Parenthood: Improving Reproductive Equity [ASPIRE]. Their goal is to stimulate informed public dialogue aimed at making abortion legal and accessible for all women in Trinidad and Tobago. ASPIRE has the support of one daily newspaper- Trinidad Express and has received sizeable amounts of grant to carry out their campaign.
In a letter to the editor: Trinidad Guardian, dated November 17, 2004, ASPIRE wrote:-
“The law does matter. It matters to all those poor women who cannot have access to safe services because of the restrictive law. It maters to all those women who are treated with disdain when they seek medical care. It matters to all women who are abused in the process of receiving treatment for abortion. It matters to all those women who are voiceless. cytotec santa cruz ..The absence of regulations also means that many women are at the mercy of some providers. There is no regulation and so no standard for care. There are no guidelines for counselling or any structured counselling service in place.”
On the other side of the coin, the late Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America [1911 – 2004] stated that “Abortion is advocated only by persons who have themselves been born.” The performance of abortions in Trinidad and Tobago is generally illegal under the Offences Against the Person Act of 3rd April 1925, as amended. This Act was modelled after the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 of the United Kingdom.
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, and any person who unlawfully supplies means to procure an abortion knowing that it is intended for that purpose is subject to two years imprisonment [never give a woman hot Guinness and milk].
Nevertheless, under general criminal law principles of necessity, an abortion can be legally performed to save the life of a pregnant woman. Moreover, Trinidad and Tobago’s legal system is based on English common law which bases this precedent on the 1938 English Rex v. Bourne decision in determining whether an abortion performed for health reasons is lawful. In the Bourne decision, a physician was acquitted of the offence of performing an abortion in the case of a woman who had been raped. The court ruled that the abortion was lawful because it had been performed on the grounds of preserving the pregnant woman’s physical and mental health.