Rural women still battling with access to safe abortions

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The lack of access to safe abortion services in rural areas and deterioration of relationships with NGOs are among the causes that women often opt for traditional methods of carrying out abortions.

This was revealed during a Social Contexts and Advocacy session presented at the Abortion and Reproductive Justice Conference (ARJC), which is currently underway at Rhodes University in Makhanda, Eastern Cape.

In her presentation, Country Director of Ipas South Africa, Judith Merckel, said that women often opt for traditional methods of carrying out abortions due to lack of access to abortion services in rural areas, deterioration of relationships with NGOs, and a lack of political leadership.

“Health service providers actively trying to dissuade women from an abortion by the ascription of personhood to the foetus, the presentation of foetal imagery and the graphic descriptions of foetal development or outlining the risks associated with abortion,” Merckel said contributes to other methods of abortions.

The ARJC is hosted by the Department of Social Development in partnership with the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction Research Programme, Rhodes University, the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition and the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion.

The conference, scheduled from 08 – 12 July 2018, is attended by 285 delegates from 26 countries across the globe, who are participating in dialogues surrounding abortion, reproductive justice and the right to reproductive health for women and children.

The conference builds on the two previous conferences held in Canada in August 2014 and in Northern Ireland in July 2016.

The South African Government has consistently promoted a broadly inclusive understanding of sexual and reproductive health and rights as a basic requirement for the achievement of the objectives of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, the empowerment of women, and the achievement of gender equity and equality.

It is imperative to improve the social and economic status of women, particularly young women, in order to decrease their vulnerability and increase the ability of households, particularly vulnerable ones, to deal with the impact of HIV and Aids.

It is equally important to continue the promotion of responsible, healthy reproductive lifestyles and behaviour among high risk groups and the youth.

These challenges can only be addressed adequately when reproductive justice is achieved for all in South Africa, particularly for women.

Reproductive justice can however only be realised when SRHR (Sexual and reproductive health and rights) is an integral part of initiatives geared towards achieving gender equality, equity and the full empowerment of women. –