Anti-il­le­gal abor­tion cam­paign grows

The num­ber of women pre­sent­ing hos­pi­tals with com­pli­ca­tions af­ter botched abor­tions has de­creased

The New Age (Gauteng) - - KWAZULU-NATAL NEWS - NONDUMISO ZWANE non­du­misoz@the­newage.co.za

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

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Key points

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.

PIC­TURE: HERBERT MATIMBA

DODGY: Many re­sort to un­safe abor­tions, risk­ing in­jury and death.

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