Abortion is not a part of the government’s discussions as it prepares for the creation and roll-out of a patient’s rights bill, confirmed Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.
Dr. Sands shot down rumours Monday that The Bahamas would be considering the introduction of abortion in a patient’s rights bill.
The health minister kicked into damage control yesterday following statements made by Senior Nursing Officer in the Ministry of Health Sherry Armbrister which suggested that government was in the process of working on a patient’s rights bill which would include the right of women to decide whether or not they want an abortion.
Armbrister’s comments came during a presentation at the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) last week Thursday.
Dr. Sands had to go on record Monday to clarify where Armbrister misspoke.
He confirmed that a patient’s right bill is in the pipeline, but asserted that abortion is not on the table.
He shared what he felt might have led Armbrister to make such heavy assertions at an international forum.
“Bear in mind that in the thrust and parry of what is a very pressured environment at CEDAW I believe that any Bahamian representative would try to seek to try and answer – to the best of his or her ability – and the challenge is that when you are speaking formally that you can make policy on the fly,” he suggested.
“In the heat of the moment, it’s not entirely clear that a particular interpretation of conversation that may have happened in certain forums, did not become policy and this was not a policy position.”
The minister noted that die to the controversial nature of the public debate on abortion, widespread public consultation would need to occur before any decisions are made as it relates to possibly considering abortion in The Bahamas.
“Abortion, as much of a hot button topic as it is, is a discussion that must be discussed in the context of The Bahamas and a firm policy decision made so that it’s not something that happens on the fly,” he asserted.
“We have laws that date back many decades and while we may reaffirm those laws it is important that we discuss them periodically.”
Dr. Sands confirmed that while the proposed patient’s rights bill is multi-tiered; it is expected to be ironed out and enacted into legislation during the Minnis led administration’s current tenure in office.