Doctors unwilling to perform abortions

Most doctors in South Africa are unwilling to perform abortions.

Under the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996, abortions are legal up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

In pregnancies as a result of rape, incest or in cases of financial hardship, abortions are legal up to 20 weeks.

Kgaladi Mphahlele, who is the manager of Doctors Without Borders’ Choice of Termination of Pregnancy, says finding a doctor willing to refer a woman for an abortion is not the only problem.

It is also is hard to find clinics willing to perform abortions.

Mphahlele says access to abortion clinics is necessary to prevent women from seeking unsafe abortion methods.

A report issued last year found that of the 8000 medical clinics in South Africa, about 7 percent performed abortions.

Judiac Ranape, a nurse who trains doctors on abortions, says conscientious objection is a problem.

“You’ll find an operations manager who says, ‘We won’t perform it [an abortion] because it’s against my religious beliefs’,” she says.

She wants restrictions on conscientious objection.

Despite Ranape’s views, surveys show the general population is strongly opposed to abortion.

The South African Social Attitudes Survey, conducted 2003-2006, found that 9 of out 10 adults believed abortion to be wrong in times of financial dilemma.

Three-quarters said abortion was still immoral if the child was to be born with a disability.

Church leaders have asked for alternatives to be developed for women facing difficult pregnancies with alternatives to abortion.

Cape Town’s Catholic Mater Homes do just this.

The pro-life group provides shelter for women during a crisis pregnancy.

“When we talk about the nameless, faceless and voiceless victims of abortion, we have to include the mothers, who so often find themselves in helpless circumstances, with little other alternative but to make the difficult choice to end the life of their unborn child,” their website says.


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