Illegal abortions remain a major concern Illegal abortions remain a major concern

2016-04-06 06:00
PHOTO: file Many city walls have posters advertising ‘illegal’ abortions plastered on them.

PHOTO: file Many city walls have posters advertising ‘illegal’ abortions plastered on them.

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DESPITE the serious consequences of illegal abortions, women continue to go to back-street abortionists for so-called “pain free” and “safe” abortions.

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has been on a campaign since November 2015 sensitising the public to the implications of this through an anti- illegal abortion campaign.

Dhlomo said in a press release, that data from the Department of Health information service reflects that in 2014-2015 alone, 20 013 patients were admitted in various provincial health institutions due to incomplete abortions and a further 1 455 abortions were septic.

He said one of the contributing factors to women seeking back-street, illegal abortionists is because some health-care professionals pass moral judgments on them when they seek reproductive health services.

This level of pressure, coming from nurses and other medical staff are, in some ways, sending women to illegal abortionists for fear of being ridiculed and their abortion becoming news, which spreads through their community.

“We are trying to remind our health-care professionals about the importance of upholding professional ethics at all times. This includes creating a conducive environment for everyone who seeks health care, regardless of age.

“The Hippocratic Oath and Nurses’ Pledge compel doctors and nurses to keep patient information private and confidential at all times - it is very important,” he said.

South Africa has one of the most progressive abortion laws in the world where women legally have the right to terminate a pregnancy up to the 20th week of pregnancy according to the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amended Act of 2008.

“What is alarming is that we see these illegal abortion providers on the street corners distributing their illegal abortion pamphlets. We also see these adverts plastered on nearly all street walls and lamp posts. The proliferation of this advertising makes many women believe they are accessing a legitimate service, when they are not. In fact, these people who do back-street abortions are health murderers,” said Dhlomo.

According to the Act a legal termination of a pregnancy can only take place at a facility which has access to medical and nursing staff, an operating theatre, appropriate surgical equipment, drugs for intravenous and intramuscular injection, has necessary medical and emergency equipment, appropriate infection control measures, gives access to safe waste disposal infrastructure, to name a few.

The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act puts the needs of the woman first and gives her the right to choose whether to continue with a pregnancy or have an early, safe and legal termination of pregnancy, according to her individual beliefs and circumstances.

Abortions can be performed by a registered nurse or midwife up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, after 12 weeks an abortion must be performed by a trained medical doctor. Abortions after 12 weeks are only possible in the event that the pregnancy would endanger the woman’s life or if continued pregnancy would result in a severely malformed foetus, but must be performed at a hospital.

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