By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- A group describing itself as an autonomous watchdog and advocacy body has expressed concern over reported instances of botched abortions that it says threaten the general and reproductive health of women in Saint Lucia.
United PAC is calling for a full-fledged investigation into recent “post abortion treatments” at Victoria Hospital following failed abortion procedures.
“This is a matter of grave concern to us considering the potential negative impact on the reproductive health of women,” the group said in a statement on Monday.
Towards this end, United PAC said it is requesting accountability and clarification to the public from the following officials:
• Alvina Reynolds, Minister of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations
• Victor Philip La Corbiniere, Minister of Legal Affairs, Home Affairs and National Security
• Kim St. Rose, Attorney General; and
• The management and staff of Victoria Hospital
In addition, United PAC said it is seeking feedback to related legal questions:
1. Has the practice of abortion been given official sanction in St Lucia?
2. Is Victoria Hospital involved in any way in providing accommodation and cover for medical practitioners, which may be engaged in the performance of abortions?
3. What is the status of the two young ladies who were taken in at Victoria Hospital after recently made victims of botched abortions?
“We are extremely concerned over the circumstances surrounding these latest alleged botched abortions as relates to the laws of the land,” United PAC said, referring to the relevant sections of the Criminal Code of 2004 as follows:
Part D -- Termination of Pregnancy and Childbirth Offence
Causing Harm to Child at Birth
Medical or surgical treatment
164.-- (1) Where any person does an act in good faith, for the purposes of medical or surgical treatment, an intent to cause death shall not be presumed from the fact that the act was or appeared likely to cause death.
(2) Any act which is done, in good faith and without negligence for the purposes of medical or surgical treatment of a pregnant woman is justifiable, although it causes or is intended to cause a termination pregnancy or miscarriage, or premature delivery, or the death of the child.
(3) Notwithstanding section 165, the treatment for the termination of a pregnancy shall be lawful if administered in accordance with the provisions of sections 166.
165.-- (1) Subject to section 166, the offence of causing a termination of pregnancy or miscarriage of a woman can be committed either by that woman or by any other person; and that woman or any other person may be convicted of using means with intent to commit that offence, although the woman is not in fact pregnant.
(2) The offence of causing a termination of pregnancy is committed by causing a woman to be prematurely delivered of a child, with intent unlawfully to cause or hasten the death of the child.
(3) The person who intentionally and unlawfully causes a termination of pregnancy or a miscarriage is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for seven years.
(4) For the purposes of this section “termination of pregnancy” has the same meaning assigned to it under section 166.
“We expect the authorities to do the right thing by thoroughly investigating such incidents. We are particularly concerned that the role of Victoria Hospital, which is a public health facility, should be clarified,” the United PAC said.