Moves to curb backstreet abortions

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pretoria - Gauteng MEC for Health and Social Development Qedani Mahlangu has approved three legal centres for the termination of pregnancy to try stop the practice of illegal abortions.

The three private centres in Diepsloot, Ivory Park and Orange Farm will bring to 18 the number of centres operating in the province.

Mahlangu said the additional centres will help to reduce incidents of illegal abortions performed by unqualified people and which usually lead to deaths of many women.

"These additional centres will help government in its plans to reduce maternal mortality from preventable causes," said Mahlangu.

She encouraged women wishing to terminate their pregnancies to use government registered health facilities where the service is offered by suitably qualified people.

The three centres will also compliment the 32 public health facilities where termination of pregnancy is done free of charge.

Recently, two people were arrested in Johannesburg for assisting women who are more than 12 weeks pregnant to illegally abort their unborn babies.

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

This procedure can also be performed from the 13th to 20th week of pregnancy if approved by a medical practitioner.

However, Mahlangu emphasised that termination of pregnancy should not be used as a family planning method, but as a last resort when all else has failed.

She urged women to know their reproductive health rights including contraceptive services, which are freely available in all public health institutions and the ABC strategy.

Women should also consider adoption or foster care if they are not ready to have a baby, Mahlangu advised.