Recently there has been a call by a Member of Parliament for the Jamaican Government to repeal legislation that makes abortion illegal. This has sparked a vociferous debate among various civil society and church groups in Jamaica. If we are to go by the recent Don Anderson poll however, it would appear that most Jamaicans are still against the idea, with 75% saying no to legalizing abortion.
This Easter, Family & Faith Magazine take counsel from an expert outside of our shores – a Specialist Biomedical Scientist originally from Nigeria now living and working in the UK – Ms. Obianuju Ekeocha.
Family and Faith Magazine: What is your position on abortion and what are the factors that led to that position?
Obianuju Ekeocha: I am against abortion because I believe that the first and foundational human right is the right to life of every human being at every stage and phase of development. Abortion (whether done legally or illegal) violates that right.
Family and Faith Magazine: A good Christian friend of mine shared with me recently that after understanding the excruciating struggles of a family member who was pregnant with her third child, she helped her to secure an abortion. The reasons were largely due to the woman’s age (she was an older woman) and financial and emotional inability to take care of another child. Do you think there is ever an acceptable reason for abortion?
Obianuju Ekeocha: There is no acceptable reason for abortion just as there isn’t any acceptable reason to kill a toddler, not even in the most desperate circumstance, not even if a parent is poor, homeless, jobless, no one will think it a compassionate solution to kill their little child. This is because we understand the inviolable principle of right to life.
I am not going to make light of desperate situations that many pregnant women may find themselves in. Crisis pregnancy is a very real problem, but what the community around a woman in crisis pregnancy must tackle and remove is the crisis rather than the pregnancy. The community should focus on finding a way to solve the financial difficulty, family instability or any number of other difficulties that may be constituting the crisis. What must not be done is to kill an innocent unborn baby which is already a unique irreplaceable human.
Family and Faith Magazine: Even if you oppose abortion from a moral or spiritual perspective, why should those with a different view be criminalized for having the procedure?
Obianuju Ekeocha: It is true that I am Christian, and I love my faith, I try to live my faith and I love and serve God.
However, my convictions about abortion are rooted in science and biological facts rather than faith. We are living in an era of cutting-edge science and medical advancement. Perhaps 50 years ago some people may have convincingly claimed that the baby in the womb was a blob of tissue, so an abortion is just like removing a mass of tissue and blood from the womb, but that has been thoroughly debunked by medical science. We have sonograms that allow us to hear the heartbeat of the unborn baby in the womb, we have 2D, 3D and 4D ultrasound technology that allows us to see the baby. This is how we know that from even the first trimester the baby has recognizable arms, legs, fingers and toes.
I am a Specialist Biomedical Scientist in the area of Haematology, we are able to run tests while a woman is pregnant to accurately determine her baby’s blood group.
So, the question is, what does an abortion entail if it’s not just “cleaning the womb”?
Abortion entails killing a gestating baby by either poisoning it, or cutting off its supply of nourishment, or at a later stage in pregnancy cut the baby into pieces. This is inhumane and it should be rejected in every country in the world by people of all faiths and no faith at all.
Family and Faith Magazine: Even if ‘pro-lifers’ and ‘pro-choicers’ don’t agree on the ‘right or wrong’ of abortion, isn’t abortion a personal health care issue – is there a reason for the state to get involved?
Obianuju Ekeocha: Abortion is not healthcare because the core aim of healthcare is to preserve life and preserve health for both the mother and her unborn baby. Whether pro-life or pro-choice everyone instinctively should know what healthcare for a pregnant woman really looks like. She goes to a prenatal clinic, she is examined by a doctor, nurse or midwife, her baby’s heartbeat is perhaps monitored, her own heartbeat and pulse are checked and she gets all the medical support and advice that will help preserve her life as well as her baby’s who is in fact the second patient. If something goes wrong due to the neglect of careless by the gynecology healthcare professionals, there should be consequences. We all understand this. So it is only a logical step from this understanding to all of us acknowledging that any direct procedure that seeks to end the life of the baby in the womb can never be truthfully described as “healthcare” because it goes against every underlying principle of healthcare which really is to preserve health and life of the patients even the ones in the womb!
Family and Faith Magazine: What is your advice to women’s groups in Jamaica about the decriminalization of abortion?
Obianuju Ekeocha: Every woman has the maternal-protective instinct. So, women by nature are meant to be fierce and valiant protectors of babies and children. We should cherish and nurture life especially the most fragile and vulnerable.
Abortion goes against nature (as it violently destroys life), but even beyond that, abortion goes against the natural femininity instinct to nurture life especially at the most vulnerable stage of development- in the womb.
My advice and appeal to women’s groups in Jamaica is for them to rise to full stature and defend the most vulnerable. In my travels, I have had the privilege of speaking with so many women and listening to the most inspiring life-experiences, I have listened to women-war-survivors, I have talked with women who chose life in crisis pregnancy situations, I have conversed with poor women as well as rich women. This is what I learnt – that women are much more resilient, valiant, heroic and courageous than the world has given us credit for in the past. We are able to survive crisis situations, we are able to thrive even in adversity, we are able to empathize and console the wounded, we sow peace in time of war, and we are able to heal communities.
Abortion is not in any way consistent with our nature as it kills the weakest among us (the unborn children), it destroys relationships, breaks family trees and leaves the deepest and ugliest scars in the hearts, lives and homes of so many.
Abortion is very bad when it is illegal, but it is catastrophic and calamitous when any nation embraces it and legalizes it.
Women should be at the forefront of fighting against this horrific practice. I hope the Jamaican women will stand in valiant defense of Jamaica’s precious unborn babies.
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Obianuju Ekeocha is a Nigerian woman, living and working in the United Kingdom as a Specialist Biomedical Scientist.
She is also the founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of a Culture of Life in Africa through research, education and the dissemination of information.
She is an internationally acclaimed pro-life speaker, strategist, author and documentary filmmaker who has studied, worked and travelled extensively in Africa.
She is the author of Target Africa: Ideological Neocolonialism of the Twenty-First Century and the Executive Producer of the new documentary Strings Attached.
Obianuju has advised many African, European and North American legislators and policy makers on issues concerning African women’s health, social issues, youth, family, healthcare, foreign aid, education, and culture.
Obianuju she has so far spoken and worked in more than 45 cities in 18 different countries around the world. She has been welcomed as a guest speaker at many high-profile meetings and events including policy briefings at the White House, the US State Department, the European Parliament and a number of Parliaments in Africa, Europe and North America.
Ms Ekeocha has been featured by numerous broadcast networks, including BBC television and radio.
Her passion and privilege is to continue to work in defense of the sanctity and dignity of life within Culture.
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