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Government to hold consultations on legalising abortion

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Attorney General, Steadroy Benjamin. (File photo)

Antigua and Barbuda is expected to commence public discussions regarding whether or not abortion should be legalised.

Abortion can be described as the deliberate termination of a pregnancy at 28 weeks or less and can be done through medication or surgically removing the embryo or fetus with the placenta from the uterus.

Locally, the conversation on the topic has been reignited following the publicisation of a leaked US Supreme Court draft a few weeks ago, which detailed plans for the court to overthrow the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, that gives legal access to abortions across America.

Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin made the declaration that preparations are being made by the government to consider the public’s opinion before arriving at a conclusion.

“It is intended to have some public discussions on the matter and then make a determination as to where we go from there. I know the public interest has been piqued by the intended delivery of a verdict in the United States in the case of Roe v Wade.

“At the moment, abortion is contrary to the laws of Antigua and Barbuda and it has remained so for several years in the past. We shall look at it at the appropriate time,” Benjamin said in an interview.

On the matter of access to abortion, Benjamin added that he personally believes women should be able to safely have the procedure under certain conditions.

“There are many persons who are of the view, and I share that particular view, that abortions ought to be given in special circumstances. For example, where the health of the mother is concerned or where the pregnancy results from an act of violence such as rape and other matters like that; the government would have to consider at the appropriate time,” the AG outlined.

Antigua and Barbuda’s current legislation has remained unchanged since the 19th century and cites a sentence of up to 10 years for any woman who “procures her own miscarriage”.

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