Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Jamaica on Abortion Legislation

The debate regarding the legalisation of abortion has again resurfaced with a recommendation in the recently published Report by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI). This report suggests that members of the Jamaican Parliament make the decision for or against legalisation of abortion by a private conscience vote.

The Catholic Bishops of Jamaica wish to reiterate the Church’s teaching on this matter and remind our Catholic Faithful of the imperative to promote and safeguard the sanctity of human life even in the most difficult of circumstances.

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The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognised as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

2271 Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

Donum Vitae (Respect for Human Life in Its Origin) states:

“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognised and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the State. They belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took their origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.” (CDF, Donumvitae III.)

“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the State is denying the equality of all before the law. When the State does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined … . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.” (CDF, Donumvitae III)

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Modern science has underscored and confirmed the Church’s constant teaching that human life begins at conception. On this basis, human life must be respected from conception to natural death.

Your Bishops call on the Catholic Faithful to promote the dignity of human life from conception to natural death by:

  1. Rejecting the legalisation of abortion.
  2. Promoting circumstances that will limit and eliminate temptation to procure abortion: i.e., promote responsible sexual behaviour, promote measures to safeguard our children from sexual abuse, and ensure that immediate medical attention be provided for victims of sexual abuse/rape.

We urge Catholics, and all persons of good will, to remain aware of the ongoing debate and let your voices be heard in the defence of the sanctity of all human life. This is the foundation for the Church’s social doctrine, including its teachings on war, capital punishment, euthanasia, health care, poverty and immigration.

When we disregard the value of life at its beginning, where do you stop? Hence, the complex reality of increased murders and harming of persons!

Dated the 20th day of July, 2021

Most Rev Kenneth D. Richards, DD, CD

Archbishop of Kingston

Most Rev Burchell A. McPherson, DD

Bishop of Montego Bay

Most Rev John D. Persaud, DD

Bishop of Mandeville