It happens. What happens? It. Sex. Rape. One night stands. Breaking or torn condoms. Unprotected sex. Unplanned pregnancies. Unwanted bumps. Health risks. Congenital disabilities (birth defects)… As a medical doctor, I have – excuse the pun – heard it all. For whatever ethical and unethical reasons, old and young women want to terminate their pregnancies. And when one considers the laws of South Africa, they may.
These include preserving her physical or mental health that is at stake or the realisation that the unborn child will suffer from extreme mental or physical abnormalities. It can also be done if she is pregnant due to rape or incest. Economic and social conditions can also be considered. In a nutshell, should a woman be over 20 weeks pregnant and wish to terminate her pregnancy, such an abortion can be considered if the mom-to-be or her unborn child’s life are in danger or if there are severe congenital disabilities.
The lure to illegal or backstreet abortions
What is most concerning is that even with women being given the choice and right to terminate their pregnancies safely; time and time again women opt for backstreet abortions. As you walk or drive past town, you see many backstreet abortion pamphlets stapled on trees and glued to buildings and poles.
Backstreet abortions are those by illegal providers who lure women by offering quick, cheap, safe and painless abortions. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case when women go to these untrained, unqualified and unaccredited imposters.
Dangers of using backstreet abortions
Backstreet abortions won’t be able to provide you with their Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) registration number and may offer abortions well over 20 weeks into pregnancies. What their flashy websites, posters and representatives don’t tell you is that women die!
Furthermore, many who live through them may suffer lifelong consequences. In addition to death, complications that may arise from visiting backstreet abortion vendors include, but are not limited to severe bleeding, blood poisoning, damaged genitals, torn cervix, chronic pain, and increased risks to permanent infertility.
Heart to heart conclusion
Allow me to put away my doctor role for a while and speak to you from one woman to another. Perhaps you may be the male partner, unsure about what to do and what direction to sway your partner to. Whatever the case, please, please stay away from backstreet abortions.
You are not helpless. There are legal options and many alternatives. Get counselling and explore all your options. Chin up! Everything will be alright. No matter how dark it may seem right now, anchor in deep for before long, the sun will shine again.
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