Mahlangu warns against backstreet abortions

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pretoria - Gauteng Health and Social Development MEC Qedani Mahlangu has urged women wishing to terminate their pregnancies to make use of government health facilities.

Mahlangu's call follows the arrest of two men who have been assisting women, who were more than 12 weeks pregnant, in terminating their pregnancies using illegal methods.

The arrest follows an investigation by a regional radio station and the police whereby two men, one claiming to be a medical student and the other a doctor at a state hospital, claimed to operate a network of gynaecologists and nurses employed at state hospitals.

One of the men, only known as Gift, admitted to carrying out abortions by supplying women with ulcer medication that induced labour.

Mahlangu warned expectant mothers against the use of illegal methods of terminating pregnancies as it poses danger to their reproductive health and urged them to use government health facilities where terminations are safe and free of charge.

"Taking the legal route is essential in maintaining both your reproductive health and preventing complications such as severe bleeding, tearing of the cervix, severe damage to the genitals and abdomen or even death.

"At government health facilities, the procedure is done by qualified health practitioners using drugs and equipment kept under correct environment and temperatures for its effectiveness," Mahlangu said.

She said the health facility setting allows health workers to deal immediately with any complications that may arise.

In South Africa, the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act 1996 allows an expectant mother to terminate the pregnancy upon her request if she is within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

This procedure can also be performed from 13 to 20 weeks of pregnancy, if approved by a medical practitioner.

Mahlangu applauded the police for the arrest and urged the community to report such bogus health workers as their actions are endangering the lives of many people.