Illegal abortion advertising in focus
Polokwane - The Limpopo government is planning to clamp down on bogus doctors who use lampposts and perimeter walls to promote illegal abortions.
Provincial government spokesperson Tebatso Mabitsela said the decision was taken during an executive council (Exco) meeting held in Polokwane last week.
"Government will embark upon operations that will see the provincial government working together with municipalities to ensure that those who derive financial gain from these advertisements endure the full wrath of the law," said Mabitsela.
"The Exco expressed displeasure [about] the advertisements that are put on, among others, lampposts and perimeter walls to promote illegal abortion and adult-shop paraphernalia."
According to the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy (Top) Act 92 of 1996, as well as the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA), abortion advertisements in which a bogus doctors offer "affordable 100% guaranteed, fast, safe and pain-free abortions", are illegal.
Provincial health and social development spokesperson Joe Maile said not only the bogus doctor would be held liable for criminal prosecution, but anyone who helps them in the process.
"Any person who puts up posters or hands out pamphlets of these abortions or any woman who makes use of these abortions at unregistered facilities is an accomplice and liable to be criminally prosecuted," said Maile. "As far as we are concerned, only one clinic group, Marie Stopes, has been cleared by ASA to advertise safe and pain-free abortions."
Maile said Section 10 of the Top Act stipulates that any person who is caught performing an abortion whilst not qualified to do so in terms of the Top Act would face up to 10 years in jail.
"We are working closely with the law enforcement agencies and the health professional council to clamp down on these bogus doctors, as much that we even (go undercover) as patients," he added.
According to the Top Act, termination of pregnancies may only be performed at places approved by the Minister of Health. Such a facility should give access to medical and nursing staff, give access to an operating theatre and have appropriate surgical equipment.
The facility should also supply drugs for intravenous and intramuscular injection, have emergency resuscitation equipment and access to an emergency referral centre or facility and should have the official approval of a health MEC.
It also states that one is entitled to have a free abortion at a government hospital or clinic during the first three months of pregnancy.