It was late at night when a WhatsApp message
came through on my professional line. The young woman was spinning out as 2 nights previously, she and her boyfriend had unprotected sex and he used the pull out method. She wanted to know how effective emergency contraception would be, 72 hours having being past.
In her words, and language she used , I got the terror she was experiencing. I too was once young and fertile and remember the helplessness , and visions of a well crafted future, dissipate due to a few million sperm misplaced at an unwanted time of life.
I also recall the same fear as this young woman expressed, at reaching out to a health care provider for a solution . My options were seriously limited – abortion was illegal so travelling to another country or having the baby were the only possibilities. Well, the other possibility, was having a backstreet abortion . And women followed that path , many with disastrous consequences.
This young woman ,and every woman post 1996, have first prize that a democracy can offer: the right to reproductive justice, the right to have a legal abortion. Yet why are women still seeking backstreet abortions, and why are women still dying from these abortions?
I am an official Supporter of GLOBAL HEALTH STRATEGIES #MyBodyMyChoice.
Global Health Strategies (GHS) is an international organisation that focuses on improving health and well-being around the world using advocacy, communications, research, and policy analysis. One of the many public health issues that they work on is a woman’s right to reproductive justice. This includes her right to accessing essential sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, including safe abortion services.
While abortion has been legal in South Africa under the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (CTOPA) since 1996, many women continue to struggle to access to safe abortion services. As a result, they are compelled to seek abortions through unsafe means, which results in the deaths of several women and girls every year and leaves many more temporarily or permanently disabled.
Tell me your abortion story.
I invite you to share . Whether you are a woman who has had an abortion , tried to have an abortion ,or was refused an abortion, talk to me. If you are a man who impregnated a woman who had or wanted an abortion , , tell me your story. And if you are a health care provider , do share your story of abortion .
Abortion Facts :
- Despite abortion being legal, women continue to be shamed for choosing an abortion.
- Misinformation, negative perceptions and moral or religious beliefs continue to fuel stigma.
- Many healthcare providers refuse to provide services due to stigma, religious and moral beliefs and conscientious objection.
- According to a 2009 study, two illegal abortion procedures took place in South Africa for every safe legal procedure.
- 10000 illegal abortions are performed in South Africa annually.
- Young people are severely affected by abortion stigma, and are at risk of suffering health complications as a result of unsafe abortion.
- Globally, unsafe abortion is one of the top five causes of maternal mortality,
- At its heart, stigma is a cycle.
- Many women, young women, adolescent girls, and gender non-conforming people in South Africa are vulnerable to ill-health due to several economic and social barriers that prevent them from accessing timely and life-saving SRH services, including safe abortion and contraception
I say “Lets end the stigma , the shame. let women know that it is their reproductive right to choose #MyBodyMyChoice. Let there be reliable , unencumbered and professional access to services so women have the agency to make decisions for herself about her own body
This is how to access safe abortions :
1. Ensure the person offering you an abortion service is qualified and well trained through CPD processes so their registration is up to date.
2. Illegal abortion providers must be avoided . Do not be tempted out of your fear to call up the person who’s name you see on a poster on the street. The poster that offers “quick and pain free abortions ” . This perpetuates the stigma and misinformation about abortion.
3. Do not order your own medical abortion drugs online and self administer them.
4. In South Africa, any woman of any age can get an abortion by simply requesting with no reasons given if she is less than 13 weeks pregnant.
5. Surgical abortion carries at least 10 times less risk of health complications than continuing a pregnancy
- The Abortion Pill (Medication Abortion)
This may be a good option for you if you are between 5 weeks and 9 weeks pregnant. After 9 weeks, you’ll need a surgical in-clinic abortion. This method works using two pills. Mifepristone (commonly known as the abortion pill) will be taken first. Then another pill, called misoprostol, needs to be taken 6-48 hours afterward. It will cause cramping and bleeding as it empties your uterus.it must be managed by a health care provider.
A Minor Same-Day Surgical Procedure (Procedure Abortion)
Surgical abortion is recommended if you’re in your first trimester (when you’re up to 14 weeks pregnant) as it is safer during this period. It can, however, also be suitable if you’re in your second trimester (when you’re up to 20 weeks pregnant) although this surgery is more complicated. Marie Stopes offers safe abortions for unwanted pregnancies for up to 20 weeks
Your take home messages :
Abortion is legal, common and – when conducted by professionals – completely safe.Yet stigma force millions of women and young girls to turn to unsafe methods every year.
It’s time to break down the barriers that prevent women and young girls from accessing safe abortion and empower more women to live healthy, productive lives.
Global Health Strategies advocate for the following :
1.The government and policymakers must ensure full implementation of CTOPA
2.Providers must commit to providing safe and supportive abortion services
3.All of us must end stigma
I ask you to be part of this campaign . Use the #MyBodyMyChoice . Let’s create a reproductive justice movement !