Doubly Ironic: Of Teenage Pregnancy, Abortion and Consent

Dear Editor Sir,

As I see it, the birth of a child is a special occasion but the birth of a child to a child ought to be more sobering than celebratory. It is rather ironic that State Minister Juliet Cuthbert Flynn has found herself in this situation, the inadvertent celebration of the birth of twins to a fourteen-year-old mother on Christmas Day; and for two reasons.

Firstly, almost two years ago Minister Cuthbert Flynn was touting the research done by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute – CaPRI on abortion as ammunition against the current law against abortion. At the time CaPRI recommended that teens who get pregnant should be able to get tax-payer-funded abortions without parental consent. This means that if Minister Cuthbert Flynn’s abortion proposal had become law,  in the brief moments that our 14-year-old mother of twins described her pregnancy as “unwelcomed”, this 14-year-old could have had a clear and legal pathway to an abortion at her nearest clinic without her parent’s knowledge. Interestingly, because her parents were made aware of the situation, they both stepped in to offer support and encouragement to her. Suddenly, what some may have labelled a crisis pregnancy was relieved of the crisis. And Minister Cuthbert Flynn ended up celebrating the birth of twins that could have been legally killed in the womb if abortion was legal as Minister Cuthbert Flynn would like. (Changes in perception and behaviour after the changing of laws are well documented: compare before and after slavery in the UK, before and after same-sex marriage and Roe v. Wade in the US).

Secondly, it is interesting that less than a month after the debate raged in the public sphere regarding increasing the age of consent that this situation has arisen regarding the birth of twins to a 14-year-old. It seems to be a parody of the need for the discussion itself. Are we really to believe that a 14-year-old giving birth to twins is horrible but a 16-year-old giving birth to twins is good? Clearly, it’s better than 14, but 16-year-olds are immature and are certainly not ready to take on the supremely important role of being parents. Consent for sex is consent for pregnancy and parenting and the reality is that children should not be having sex, making babies or becoming parents.

The presence of CISOCA is certainly warranted to investigate cases like these. In any case, we ought to be proud of this new mother for choosing life and gratitude but at the same time, the message to our children must be clear, teenagers should be focused on personal development and their academic pursuits rather than on sexual experimentation and parenting. 2023 would be better for it.

Dr. Daniel Thomas


Love March Movement

*This letter received the Letter of the Day on January 3rd, 2023 in the Jamaica Gleaner and was published in the Observer as well*

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