Although he personally believes in the sanctity of life, Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) President Dr. Charles Arthur Clarke does not believe that the government should restrict women from having abortions as “it is a personal choice”.
“I think so,” said Clarke when asked during an interview this week if he thinks the law banning abortions should be amended.
“I think it is a free choice.
“I don’t think we should [take] our religious convictions and impose that on society.
“Some people say that certainly as a leader in society we should actually be standing up for what we feel [are] biblical principles.
“But we can do that individually. “We don’t have to actually make a law that actually restricts people like that.”
In The Bahamas, abortion is only “lawfully permitted under specific circumstances relating explicitly to the preservation of the mental and physical health of the woman and to save the life of the woman”.
In some countries, abortions are permitted until the 24th week of pregnancy under the argument that at that time, the fetus is “not a person with legal rights”.
Despite this belief, Clarke said as a Christian, he is a believer in the preservation of life.
And life, he believes, begins from inception.
“I believe that life begins from the sperm meets up [with] the ovum,” he told The Nassau Guardian.
“I don’t believe in the qualification or as man would have qualified that 13 weeks or 8 weeks is when you become a fetus or embryo.
“I believe life starts from the very time those two nuclei come and fuse together.
“I base this from a Christian principle.
“The Lord said, ‘Before you were even conceived, Jeremiah, I knew you’.
“So, life starts from at that point in time.”
The Zika virus, of which there are now eight confirmed cases in the country, has been linked to microcephaly – a disease that causes abnormally small heads in babies – which leads to a myriad of life-long and life-threatening complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The worldwide pandemic has led to a spike in calls for legalized abortions in Latin American countries where the procedure remains illegal.
According to a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine, abortion requests in Latin America have increased by 108 percent in Brazil; 108 percent in Ecuador; 93 percent in Venezuela and 76 percent in Honduras.
There have been calls for The Bahamas to legalize abortions given the “seriousness” of microcephaly.
Clarke acknowledged that microcephaly babies would be a burden to families.
But he asked, “What are the chances that all pregnant women with Zika will have microcephaly babies?”
“Now, from a practical point of view, certainly with the Zika virus and microcephaly, that does bring certain burdens on families and certainly as a nation.
“But at the end of the day, guess what?
“We have delinquents and we have people who are actually mentally challenged in our society as it is and they were born with healthy attributes, but for some reason or another they went contrary or maybe I should say challenges of life brought issues to them and certainly we as a society should take up that burden.
“I’m not saying that we should, as a society, take up the burdens of knowing that these microcephaly kids will be there, but who is to say that all of those women who are exposed to the Zika virus will have microcephaly children?
“And certainly that is a decision that should be left between the woman and her partner or particularly just the female.
“… Who is without sin? But I do believe in the sanctity of life and I believe in the preservation of life and I support the preservation of life.”
Clarke said he agrees with Free National Movement (FNM) Senator Dr. Duane Sands who argued that abortion should be a personal choice.
Clarke referenced the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States of America under the adminstration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
“Obama allowed his government to pass laws to say that there can be marriage between [people of the] same sex,” he explained.
“But that is from a government’s perspective.
“I think personally, in his home, that’s not how he rolls.
“I don’t think it’s his desire, but then again, you can’t impose your desire on other persons or society.
“Society should have the choice to make the decision .
“If they want to be make that decision and that’s on them.
“But again, from a biblical point, as for me and my house, this is how we will worship the Lord.
“We all have to meet our maker and we all have things in which that we have to deal with.”
Clarke stressed that his views are personal and have nothing to do with the union.