Knowledge and Perception of Abortion and the Abortion Law in Trinidad and Tobago
Posted: 12 Jul 2007
As for most of its Caribbean neighbours, Trinidad and Tobago's leading cause of maternal morbidity is unsafe abortion. Yet activism to introduce public policy and legislation that effectively address this aspect of women's reproductive rights and health has been met with public outcry. With almost hysterical opposition coming from certain religious quarters, there is the unsubstantiated impression that Trinidadians are over-whelmingly opposed to abortion law reform. A national survey was therefore carried out of people's knowledge and views on the current abortion law in Trinidad and Tobago. The survey found that although almost half of respondents had an unfavourable perception of abortion, more than half of them were in favour of broadening the legal grounds for accessing terminations. Incest, rape and danger to a woman's life were cited as the most significant circumstances under which abortions should be permitted. The vast majority of respondents agreed that voting on abortion law reform by members of the legislature should not be based on personal beliefs. The findings demonstrate that there is not the degree of opposition to abortion law reform that is widely assumed. On the other hand, given the wide variance of views and perceptions, we argue that public health concerns and human rights should always trump public opinion.
Keywords: abortion law and policy, public opinion survey, Trinidad and Tobago
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