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Thursday 19 October 2017
Editorial

The twins at Forres Park

It is happening far too often. First, a baby girl is discovered in a refrigerator at a doctor’s office in San Fernando. Then, a full-term baby girl in a garbage bag at the Beetham landfill. Now, stillborn twins are dumped like rubbish in Forres Park, left like meat for corbeaux. Insufferable.

Clearly, something is not right. This is a worsening scenario. How far have we come when scavengers can report being accustomed to finding foetuses among mounds of garbage? These are just the reported cases.

We urge all to support the activities of the Children’s Authority. If expectant mothers and fathers are uncertain about their ability to care for their unborn child, they should not hesitate to contact the authority to explore the range of options available, such as foster care and adoption.

Perhaps one reason why parents do not avail themselves of such opportunities is the shame and stigma associated with certain pregnancies. There are so many taboos.

Can parents really expect any exploration of options will take place in a confidential and non-judgmental environment? Not unless they are confident of the professionalism of people around them. That requires a faith that is hard to deploy given all we see, be it in the Public Service or in communities.

But why should there be pressure on women to endanger themselves, to abandon their babies, to lurk in the realm of shadow?

It is society that is at the root of the problem. A society that blames the woman for violations of her own body; that condemns female sexuality; that allows minors to shoulder the consequences of hard-back adults; that pushes women into back-alley abortions; that exerts pressure on the young to not have education about healthy sexual options; that venerates the views of religious bodies; that pillories those who advocate the use of contraception; that leaves girls vulnerable.

Abortion legislation is not the panacea, but Dr Fuad Khan is right to call for a debate of such a measure as well as a widening of the discourse. This is, in part, a matter of public health, not just criminal law.

We know enough to conclude an illicit practice is better when made subject to regulation than without. If women could openly explore abortion, they are likely to also be counselled during such a process of exploration. The intervention of a skilled listener can make a world of difference. Perhaps other options might become feasible.

Either way, the welfare of the mother is better protected.

With no change to the status quo, these horrific finds are likely to continue. After twins then what? Triplets? We need to face this issue seriously.

We know it is not a new call but there must be a discussion on abortion and a plan of action. While it is true we are in hard economic times, we cannot sit by and accept as a norm children being disposed of.

Any debate that happens must also not oversimplify the complexities of this issue. Regulated abortion is not simply the killing of unborn children. It is an entire system of intervention that aims to keep the welfare of the mother paramount and that supports the right of a female to choose. Such a system comes in the context of a social network that provides other options like allowing mothers to surrender babies at hospitals anonymously if they wish.

We have to face the fact that some interventions are preferable to what we are seeing now. At the very least, we need to talk about those twins at Forres Park.

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