So-called “backstreet” abortions are on the rise in major cities such as Pretoria and Johannesburg – despite abortion being legal.
This was revealed by social development department official Jacques van Zuydam.
Van Zuydam was speaking at the opening of a conference on abortion and reproductive rights in the Eastern Cape yesterday.
It is estimated that more than half of the 260 000 abortions performed each year in South Africa are done at illegal make-shift establishments.
“Despite the fact that abortion is legal in South Africa, it is estimated that between 52 and 58 percent of [all] abortions [in the country] every year are illegal,” he said.
A World Health Organization (WHO) study on illegal abortions in the country has revealed that while there are hundreds of legal abortion facilities, women still choose unregistered, unsafe abortion facilities.
This is possibly because women wanted “quick and discreet abortions,” said Van Zuydam.
Many found illegal establishments to be more private and having a “lack of judgement” compared to public health facilities, Van Zuydam said.
In 2011, a bogus doctor who was carrying out illegal abortions was arrested in Pretoria.
He was suspected of being part of a syndicate of bogus doctors who were dispensing abortion pills for R700 each.
The conference on abortion ends on Thursday, with 285 delegates from 26 countries across the globe attending.
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