Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the deputy minister of health, demonstrated against illicit abortions in the province last week by taking down advertisements for such services in Bloemfontein. The number of fake doctors providing dangerous and illegal abortions in the Free State has been raising concerns.
Montsheng Tsiu, a Free State Health MEC who participated in the march, expects that the campaign would persuade young people to use the state’s resources for sexual and reproductive health. These include contraceptives for the prevention of STDs, unintended pregnancies, and risky pregnancy termination.
Pregnancies, illegal abortions on the rise
One of the five provinces with the highest percentage of teenage pregnancies is The Free State. As a result, there are more illegal abortions performed each year.Dhlomo argued that young people need guidance on safe sex practices and urged them to take use of clinic services geared for their needs.“Our clinics have dedicated youth-friendly zones which operate from 14:00 in the afternoons. We must all make these work effectively. There are about 46 of these zones in Mangaung,” he said.
‘Use proper facilities’
When having an abortion, Tsiu urged women to use licensed or designated facilities. “Those performing illegal abortions don’t care about people’s lives and are only in search of money. We, therefore, call on our people to use legitimate medical officers or facilities,” she said.
she urged Motheo TVET College students to seek safe abortion clinics and engage in safe sexual behavior.Tsiu came to the conclusion that it was concerning for minors to be actively having sex.“We, as the government, are worried about the number of child mothers, many of them HIV positive. The use of condoms and other contraceptives are encouraged,” she said
Offer more services to youth
Portia Matshane A TVET College student Portia Matshane stated that going to a location that performs illegal abortions is simpler. “They don’t ask questions like at the government institutions. On the issue of contraceptives, I’d say, we young people are irresponsible, and we need to change our behavior,” Matshane explained.
Another participant, Bandile Nikelo added: “As for illegal abortions, I’d like the government to provide services in every clinic, unlike now, where only certain ones offer abortions.” She continued: “Police should join the campaign by ensuring that they arrest those performing illegal abortions.”
Students were also given safe sex education by the Soul City Institute for Social Justice (SCI) and other stakeholders. Many of the kids who gathered at the SCI stall to hear the amiable councilor speak found the lesson to be eye-opening. Following the march, students stopped by various booths, some of which offered free HIV testing.
Despite the fact that it is legal to have an abortion in South Africa, it is believed that between 52% and 58% of the country’s 260 000 annual abortions are illegal.
Abortion and Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution III was officially launched by the Department of Social Development in collaboration with the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction Research Programme, Rhodes University, the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition, and the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion.
The National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Framework Strategy was adopted by Cabinet in 2015 (2014-2019). The plan is in line with South Africa’s Population Policy’s vision (1998).
The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (Act No. 92 of 1996), which was passed by Parliament in 1997, obliges the government to offer reproductive health services to all people, including secure environments in which the right to choose may be exercised without fear or damage.However, despite the Act’s passage 25 years ago, significant implementation-related issues still exist.
Poor access to services
According to a 2017 Amnesty International research, only 7% of the nation’s 3880 public health facilities conduct abortions. This is far less than the 505 medical facilities that the Department of Health has designated to undertake pregnancy terminations throughout South Africa.
Jacques van Zuydam, the Chief Director of Population and Development at Social Development, when assessed the progress made in South Africa’s implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action in 2014, they discovered that there were still many obstacles to overcome before the government could fully realize the people’s rights to sexual and reproductive health.
“Persistent gender inequality in the economic, social, and private spheres continue to undermine women’s sexual and reproductive rights. South Africa’s Cabinet decided in 2015 that Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) must be one of our country’s Population Policy priorities.
“This specifically included the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescents, and a recommendation that a reproductive justice approach should be developed to guide our work in all spheres,” Van Zuydam said.
Cathi Albertyn, a law professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, access to reproductive choices and reproductive justice go hand in hand. “Women need constructive social recognition, financial recognition as well as reproductive freedom. Women need to be afforded the freedom of choice with their bodies,” Albertyn said.
The National Health Act and the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act in South Africa both let women of any age get free abortion services from the government. But according to the most recent Choice on Termination of Pregnancy guidelines, which were issued in 2019, at least half of all abortions are still thought to be carried out by unlicensed, dangerous, and informal practitioners.
So why are so many turning to these backstreet providers?
Sibongiseni Dhlomo, deputy minister of health, 25 public health facilities in Gauteng are among the 346 nationwide that offer safe, free pregnancy termination services. out to 12 different hospitals and community health centers in Gauteng while pretending to be a woman seeking an abortion. In seven of them Hillbrow Community Health Centre, Discoverers Community Health Centre, Lillian Ngoyi Community Health Centre, Jabulani Dumani Community Health Centre, Lenasia South Community Health Centre, Zola Community Health Centre, and Johan Heyns Community Health Centre there was either no response or the listed number didn’t work.