NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — Three female government ministers yesterday condemned a statement by an opposition legislator that the state should move to sterilise women after they have given birth to two children.
“We were shocked and disgusted to hear the offensive suggestion of Mr Richard Lightbourn,” the ministers, Melanie Griffin (Social Services), Glenys Hanna-Martin (Transport and Aviation), and Hope Strachan (Financial Services and Local Government) said in a joint statement.
Speaking at the convention of the main opposition Free National Movement (FNM) on Thursday night, Lightbourn proposed that unwed mothers with more than two children should have their “tubes tied” in an effort to curtail the country’s social ills.
Lightbourn said children born in unstable family situations often grow up to participate in criminal activities.
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“It is also necessary for us as a nation to consider adopting the lead of several countries in the world which results in unwed mother having her tubes tied after having more than two children,” he said.
“By adopting such measures, there will be less classrooms needed in the future, less out of school every year seeking employment and would also result in the mother of these children being able to live a better life, not having to bring up so many children,” he remarked.
But in a statement, FNM Chairman Sidney Collie said “Mr Lightbourn’s comments… were personal and do not reflect the position of the FNM”.
“The FNM does not believe in restricting anyone’s rights including women’s reproductive rights. The FNM has and will continue to fight for all Bahamians, regardless of gender,” the statement noted.
Lightbourn told reporters afterwards that his statement was intended to state that this was the position adopted by several countries “and we as a country need to develop a position to enable the country to address the number of children born to teenage women”.
But in their joint statement, the three ministers said Lightbourn’s statement is a violation of women’s reproductive rights and was shocking and despicable.
“These despicable comments were made last night at the FNM Convention. While these kinds of outrageous comments have come to typify the positionings of Mr Lightbourn, his comments last night show that he is unfit for public office and he should immediately apologise to all Bahamian women.”
The ministers called on Lightbourn to submit his resignation from Parliament, adding, “we condemn Mr Lightbourn outrightly on behalf of every Bahamian woman”.