Anti-illegal abortion campaign grows
The number of women presenting hospitals with complications after botched abortions has decreased
THE fight against illegal abortions is fast gaining ground in the province.
This follows the success of the anti-illegal Termination of Pregnancy Campaign, launched by the health department, aimed at reducing the number of women dying while undergoing illegal abortions.
The campaign came amid concerns that despite abortion being legalised since the dawn of democracy, many women and girls continued to opt for illegal abortions, despite the risk of complications and fatalities.
Health and welfare, including termination of pregnancy, was among the contemporary issues for women’s struggles in 1900-1994. In the previous regime, hundreds of women died yearly as a direct result of illegal termination of pregnancy complications. This was due to the fact that abortions could not be legally done except under extreme health related circumstances.
In 1996, abortion was legalised in South Africa, with the implementation of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act.
Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said since the intensification of the campaign in 2015, the number of women presenting to clinics and hospitals with complications after botched illegal abortions had decreased significantly.
The department has measured the success of the campaign through the increase in the number of women coming forward for legal abortions. Statistics show that the number of legal abortions had increased to 14209 last year from 8058 in 2013. There were 9785 legal abortions in 2014 increasing to 10 152 in 2015.
“There has also been a significant reduction in the number of women reporting at health facilities with incomplete abortions compared to the start of the campaign,” Dhlomo said. “In 2014, the number stood at 10786 and was reduced to 10152 in 2015 and 8 633 last year.”
There has also been a marked
2012 Saving Mothers report showed that 186 women died of septic miscarriages in SA public health facilities with 23% dying through unsafe or illegal abortions
The South African Medical Research Council in 2010 found that 49% of abortions were of teens between 13 and 19 years old, with most done outside a hospital or clinic
The dangers of illegal abortion include death, severe bleeding and uterine perforation, tearing of the cervix and increased risk of infertility
increase in the number of facilities offering termination of pregnancies from 14 in 2015 to 42 this year and a huge decrease in miscarriage-related maternal deaths over the past three years in the province, compared to the previous three years, the department said.
“Apart from the status of being the recognised pioneer on this issue, we now enjoy the benefit of being the preferred custodian for valuable and trustworthy information when it comes to issues of promotion of safe TOPs,” Dhlomo said. In 2015, he said it was disappointing that 18 years after democracy there were women still being maimed and dying as a result of illegal and unsafe abortions.
“What is alarming is that we see these illegal abortion providers on the street corners distributing illegal abortion pamphlets. We also see these adverts plastered on nearly all the street walls and lamp posts. The adverts are professing safe, pain-free, quick and cheap abortions.
“The proliferation of this advertising and the fact that it is posted in public spaces such as taxi ranks and shopping centres makes many women believe they are accessing a legitimate service, when they are not. In fact, these people who do backstreet abortions are murderers,” he said.
DODGY: Many resort to unsafe abortions, risking injury and death.