Campaign for safer abortions explained

2016-11-01 06:00

The Mmoho campaign was explained at a press conference held last Tuesday at the Fountains Hotel in Cape Town, as a means to advocate better sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

The Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996, amended in 2008, stipulates that all women are entitled to end an unwanted pregnancy.

In practice, a combination of stigma, lack of information, inadequate facilities and unsympathetic health workers often make this impossible.

Even though abortions are supposed to be freely available in the public health system, more than 50% of abortions performed in South Africa are thought to be “unsafe” – meaning they were not carried out by a registered professional.

Andrea Thompson, advocacy and engagement manager at Marie Stopes clinics, explained that unsafe abortions could lead to septicaemia, internal organ damage, tetanus, haemorrhage and even death.

Deborah Constant, a senior researcher at the UCT Women’s Health Research Unit, said an abortion can be carried out by a nurse at primary care level.

“This is 99% effective up to nine weeks. Following assessment and first medication, the process can be self-managed at home.”

However, up to 30% of women wait until the second trimester – between nine and 20 weeks – to have an abortion. This requires a surgical abortion.

Dr Marijke Alblas performs surgical abortions in some Western Cape hospitals.

This involves tablets – to open the cervix and relax it – and suction or forceps to remove the foetus.

It is far preferable, she says, for women to come earlier in their pregnancies when only tablets are required.

“If you are pregnant and you know you don’t want it, come as quickly as possible because it makes it so much easier.”V For more information, contact the Community Media Trust on 084 600 0251 or 021 788 9163 or email Check out the campaign at, @add_your_ voice and on Facebook at

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