Abortion underworld

2011-04-11 00:00

ABORTIONS for 12-year-olds, no firm evidence of medical qualifications and a reluctance to divulge their physical addresses are some of the shady practices unearthed by The Witness while investigating abortionists in Pietermaritzburg.

“Safe abortion plus no pain,” is the promise from posters that litter CBD streets.

But are these abortions safe or legal for that matter?

Posing as a young woman who needed an abortion, The Witness called two of the numbers that were given on the posters.

One of the abortionists identified himself as “Dr Jay” and said the pills and “cleaning” cost R480. He would not divulge his office location, but said the prospective patient could meet him outside Edgars in Church Street. Dr Jay did not arrive for the “consultation”, but has since sent numerous SMSes saying he has “a good pill for an abortion”, and asking when he could meet.

Another so-called doctor, “Dr Kisissing”, who has an office in Langalibalele Street, told The Witness that he has conducted abortions for 12-year-olds.

“You don’t have to be afraid. It’s very easy. I’ll just give you pills that you need to take at home. After you’ve taken them you’ll bleed profusely and then you must come back after a week for more medication for cleaning,” Dr Kisissing explained.

When The Witness asked for his practice number, he gave us his lawyer’s number, which does not exist, and said his lawyer “will explain everything”.

Both these doctors, who have foreign accents, refused to give The Witness their practice numbers.

The “doctors” meet you somewhere before taking you to their offices. They operate from cellphone numbers and do not answer unidentified callers.

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) acting CEO and registrar Marella O’Reilly confirmed these “practitioners” are not registered with the council.

“Backstreet abortions are a major concern for the regulator. These criminals are pretending to be doctors and putting lives at risk with the methods they use.

“The HPCSA cannot hold them accountable in case of negligence and complications as we have no jurisdiction over them,” O’Reilly said.

Laila Abbas, advocacy manager of Marie Stopes South Africa (MSSA), a nationwide legal organisation with 37 clinics that provide family planning and advice about sexual and reproductive health, said women are lured to backstreet abortionists “because these ‘doctors’ provide an abortion service regardless of the gestation age of the foetus”.

eThekwini Municipality has formed a task team of SA Police Force and Metro police officers to remove misleading posters and pamphlets advertising abortions.

“These people are making a quick buck and disregard women’s safety. The pill they offer is half of the termination process and can prove to be extremely dangerous,” said Abbas.

“A patient’s cervix may tear and their genitals and abdomen may be damaged.

“These women may also suffer from blood poisoning, infertility, internal organ damage and even death,” Abbas added.

Money should not be an issue because the health department provides a free abortion service. Women and girls are advised to visit their nearest clinic or hospital if they want to terminate their pregnancy.

KZN Health Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said, “This is a societal problem so every department and person should take responsibility. We also direct women to go to our public health facilities when they choose to abort.”

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said it is the municipality’s duty through the licensing department to arrest and fine people who put posters up without its approval.

 

• Is unhygienic.

• Proper infection prevention protocols are absent.

• Is carried about by untrained practitioners.

• Unsafe methods are used and illegal operations carried out.

• The practitoners have no licence to operate.

 

 

• Look for a landline telephone number, not just cellphones.

• Look for a name or brand.

• The facility needs to have a fixed address, not a street corner.

• The service provider should answer any questions you have in order to help you be informed about the procedure.

• Beware of any person promising a cheap abortion or anyone who does not want to disclose his full identity.

• Call the Health Professions Council of South Africa call centre at 012 338 9301 or go to www.hpcsa.co.za to verify the practitioner’s registration with the council and his qualifications.

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