Women face a litany of real-world barriers to accessing termination of pregnancy services through the public health system, leaving illegal providers as the only options.
JOHANNESBURG – The United Nations Population Fund in its State of World Population 2022 report, launched in Durban last month, described the prevalence of unsafe abortions as a “public health emergency”, estimating that seven million women a year in developing countries are hospitalised as a result.
Even with some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world, including for free, safe termination of pregnancy services, South African women and girls continue to contribute to that number, with the latest Saving Mothers report identifying unsafe abortions as avoidable factors in 25% of all maternal deaths resulting from miscarriages.
This is a result of a litany of real-world barriers to accessing termination of pregnancy services through the public health system.
Something that public interest law clinic Section27, which has a focus on abortion access issues, has been lobbying for, is for the state to introduce self-managed abortion. This is where abortion medicine is taken without the direct supervision of a health professional but with adequate information being provided on exactly how to do it, what to expect and what to look out for and, importantly, a number to contact if anything goes wrong.
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