Health MEC wants illegal abortion clinics closed

2016-03-29 11:44
Posters advertising ‘safe’ abortions cover a wall on Boshoff Street.

Posters advertising ‘safe’ abortions cover a wall on Boshoff Street. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - Recent reports reveal horrifying figures relating to illegal abortions taking place in KwaZulu-Natal.

Between 2015 and 2016 a total of 12 031 women were admitted to KZN hospitals for botched abortions, the KZN Health Department reported, and in the previous financial year 20 013 women were admitted to various KZN hospitals due to botched abortions at illegal clinics.

This is according to a press statement by KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

“A further 1 455 abortions were reported as septic,” said the statement.

The department said according to a 2012 “Saving Mothers” report, 186 women in South Africa died of a septic miscarriage in public health clinics and hospitals, of which 23% were caused by illegal abortions.

In another study carried out by the South African Medical Research Council in 2010, figures showed that 49% of abortions were undergone by young women between the ages of 13 and 19 years and took place outside a hospital or clinic.

The statement said it was a matter of great concern that some women were still turning to backstreet abortion practitioners.

“It is alarming that we see these illegal abortion providers on street corners distributing illegal abortion pamphlets, and we also see these adverts plastered on nearly all the street walls and lamp posts.”

Dhlomo implored the police to identify areas where illegal abortions are taking place and to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators to the full might of the law.

He also called for the owners of the clinics to be prosecuted and the buildings shut down and for the posters, pamphlets and materials advertising illegal abortions to be removed.

Dhlomo said all women admitted to public health facilities with complications following illegal abortions must be assisted to open cases against the perpetrator.

Marie Stopes advocacy and engagement manager Andrea Thompson said in a statement that recent raids on illegal abortion practices in Port Elizabeth were welcomed, as well as the other initiatives taken to combat the illegal practices nationwide.

The statement was a response to the arrest of two women in Port Elizabeth last week.

The women, one confirmed to be a professional nurse, were arrested on 25 counts of concealment of birth relating to alleged illegal abortions they had performed.

“The Guttmacher Institute and World Health Organisation estimate that over half of all abortions in southern Africa are unsafe,” said Thompson.

She said the rate of unregulated abortion advertising points to a high demand for these services and the need for greater access to abortion care countrywide. — Witness Reporter.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  abortion  |  health

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