Abortion law Trinidad and Tobago

 

Background

 

The performance of abortions is generally illegal in Trinidad and Tobago under the Offences Against the Person Act of 3 April 1925, as amended. Any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, unlawfully administers to her any noxious thing or unlawfully uses any means is subject to four years’ imprisonment.  A woman who undertakes the same act with respect to herself is subject to the same penalty.  Any person who unlawfully supplies means to procure an abortion knowing that it is intended for that purpose is subject to two years’ imprisonment. 

Nonetheless, under general criminal law principles of necessity, an abortion can be legally performed to save the life of a pregnant woman. Moreover, Trinidad and Tobago, like a number of Commonwealth countries, whose legal systems are based on the English common law, follows the holding of the 1938 English Rex v. Bourne decision in determining whether an abortion performed for health reasons is lawful.  In the Bourne decision, a physician was acquitted of the offence of performing an abortion in the case of a woman who had been raped.  The court ruled that the abortion was lawful because it had been performed to prevent the woman from becoming “ physical and mental wreck” thus setting a precedent for future abortion cases performed on the grounds of preserving the pregnant woman’ physical and mental health.

Although statistics on abortion in Trinidad and Tobago are not accurate, the practice is believed to be widespread and abortion is a major cause of maternal mortality and hospital admissions. 

*Information above has been retrieved from the official UN website. Full text can be found here.

 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. Offences Against the Person Act.

Attempts to Procure Abortion

56. Every woman, being with child, who, with intent to procure her own miscarriage, unlawfully administers to herself any poison or other noxious thing, or unlawfully uses any instrument or other means whatsoever with the like intent, and any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to her or causes to be taken by her any poison or other noxious thing, or unlawfully uses any instrument or other means whatsoever with the like intent, is liable to imprisonment for four years. 

57. Any person who unlawfully supplies or procures any poison or other noxious thing, or any instrument or thing whatsoever, knowing that the same is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether she is or is not with child, is liable to imprisonment for two years.

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Source: Harvard School of Public Health