Opinion: Abortion debate

POSTED: 07/7/11 2:46 PM

For some politicians the thought that there ought to be a debate about legalizing abortion alone is already too much, while answering the simple question are you pro life or pro choice seems to be causing major headaches.

The question is of course not attractive for a politician, because there are only two options and once they have chosen one, there is no way back. This is why we heard during our mini-survey remarks like, you caught me off guard, I don’t want to react right now, I’d rather talk about the situation at GEBE, or (coming from one female MP) I have not had the chance to study it.
Okay, okay, we got the message. Abortion, with euthanasia following close on its heels, is not among the favorite topics of conversation for these politicians. They do not like to announce their colors if they do not have to, and we admit: no law was broken during the execution of this survey, and nobody was forced to say anything. In this sense, we feel that every parliamentarian is free to answer any question we put any way they like.

Fortunately, there were also quite some politicians who had no trouble whatsoever talking about the subject. All we wanted to know is how things hang in our Parliament with regard to abortion. To keep things simple, we left euthanasia out of the equation because we feel that this is a totally different issue.

That abortions are taking place is a fact. Whether they take place in St. Maarten, or whether they take place in the United States, Curacao, or on the French side of the island is irrelevant. The practice exists, and therefore our legislators need to address the issue. And there is some urgency here, because Justice Minister Duncan intends to send the draft penal code to Parliament towards the end of this month.

That code contains an article about abortion. In the original draft that article makes abortion a criminal offense punishable by 4 to 12 years in jail, depending on the circumstances.

The Dutch penal code also qualifies abortion as a punishable act, but there is an important exception: it is not punishable if performed in a designated clinic. Our draft penal code does not contain that exception, or maybe it is better to say: it does not contain this provision yet.

Minister Duncan has not made any claims to this effect but the fact that he wants the debate and the fact that he wants to base any decision on the morals of St. Maarten and not on those of Curacao (where abortion will remain punishable) indicate that we may well arrive at a moment where the Dutch exception will find its way into St. Maarten’s penal code.

Justice Minister Duncan has placed himself in the pro choice camp, where he finds himself in the company of Frans Richardson, dr. Lloyd Richardson and Romain Laville. In the pro life camp we find Dr. Ruth Douglas together with Johan Leonard and Jules James.

Roy Marlin, Sylvia Meyers-Olivacci, Patrick Illidge and George Pantophlet have not come out of the closet yet, so to speak, and with the remaining five MPs – Gracita Arrindell, Leroy de Weever, William Marlin Louie Laveist and Hyacinth Richardson – we have not made contact yet.

So it is fair to say that a debate about legalized abortion is sorely needed, if only to create some clarity. Romain Laville, the young UP faction leader is among the MPs that are ready to approach that debate with an open mind. He realizes that MPs will have to leave their comfort zone, and that they have to look at all aspects instead of remaining stuck in an ideological box.

At the end of the day however, every MP will have to arrive at her and his own conclusion and the public have a right to know what that conclusion is.

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: Abortion debate by

Comments are closed.