Its proposal sparked much controversy, but 31 years after Barbados passed a law for legal abortion to be carried out under specified circumstances, a female legislator has suggested it was a right move.
In fact, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner said the Act is a clear illustration of what is possible once there is political will.
“Our country also has laws which place us head and shoulders above others in this hemisphere, such as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1983). This is one of the most controversial pieces of legislation ever to be piloted and debated in our House of Assembly,” she noted yesterday during an activity to mark International Day of the Girl Child.
“One of the primary architects, Dame Billie Miller must take the credit for forging ahead amidst some of the most bitter opposition from her parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the divide, the church and civil society. The process took her seven years from drafting to enactment.”
The senator credited successive governments for ensuring that the sexual and reproductive rights of women are protected and that every pregnancy can be planned.
However, she was not happy with contradictory provisions in law relating to teenaged girls.
“The age of sexual consent in this country is 16 and a girl may marry with parental consent at that age. However, there is still the contradictory provision that she may not seek medical attention without the knowledge of her parents or guardian until she is 18. This Government recognizes that attention has to be paid to that anomaly,” she noted.
The parliamentary secretary provided data showing that the male-to-female ratio is on par among the younger generation.
In December last year, she said, Barbados’ population comprised 19, 937 boys between the ages of 15-24 while there were 19, 852 girls.
In the birth to 14-year-old category there were 26, 849 boys and 26, 853 girls.