Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association

tt.humanist :: forum :: commentary :: 2016 :: ethics

Prime minister: abortion issue is on-going

03 May 2016 • 279 words

In a rare, if indeed not unprecedented, display of firm leadership, Prime Minister Keith Rowley stopped one of his Ministers from unilaterally making government policy and, more importantly, pointed a path forward based on rational discussion.

For the past couple of weeks, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has been telling the nation that there will be no change in the 19th century abortion law of Trinidad and Tobago, and even went so far as to berate reporters who kept bringing up the issue in light of the effects of Zika virus on foetuses. The Minister has backpedalled rapidly after his political leader stated clearly that discussion on this sensitive issue was still ongoing and "we should not bury our heads in the sand". Now Minister Deyalsingh says he only meant that the abortion discussion should have been stopped on that particular media briefing, even though he subsequently appeared on a television talkshow citing several reasons – most based on opinion rather than fact – as to why there should be no change in this law.

Prime Minister Rowley, in marked contrast, stated that abortion law reform "is something that our society needs to treat with, and if so, how?" He also reiterated the point, in direct rebuttal of Mr Deyalsingh's refrain, that the fact that a practice is enshrined in law does not necessarily make it right, citing slavery as an example.

All this is just words, however. The PNM administration may well hang fire on this issue throughout its tenure, as the UNC-led coalition did during its time in office. However, Dr Rowley should still be commended for his sensible words, so unusual from politicians in office, on a controversial issue.

T&T Humanist Association

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