Some girls are having up to three abortions before the age of 18, the Western Cape health department has revealed.
The province’s standing committee on community development raised concern about the number of abortions among teenagers, calling for more education on pregnancy and contraception.
During a briefing in the legislature recently, the committee heard that some teenagers had up to three abortions before the age of 18.
Stephen Titus, director of comprehensive health programmes in the provincial health department, said the department monitored those who repeatedly had pregnancies terminated and provided them with counselling.
Titus and his colleague Edna Arends, deputy director in charge of women’s health programmes, told the committee that out of the 66 496 births at the city’s maternity and obstetrics units in the 2009/10 financial year, 4 406 involved teenagers.
The number of births registered in the metro in the 2010/11 financial year dropped slightly to 63 082, with 3 911 involving teenagers.
While there had been a steady decrease in the number of births in the past four years, the department was projecting more births, having seen 63 952 so far in 2011/12.
The number of registered births in the province in 2009/10 was 96 907, but during 2010/11 this dropped to 93 192. The city had most births, topping 60 000 a year in the past three years, followed by the Cape Winelands with just over 12 000 and the Karoo with a little over 1 000.
Teenage births stood at more than 7 000 a year between 2007 and 2010. This dropped last year to about 6 500. Some 12 709 abortions were carried out in 2010/11, 1 685 of them on teenagers.
Anroux Marais, committee chairwoman and DA provincial spokeswoman on health, said she was concerned about young women seeking multiple abortions.
“It’s something that we need to look at and do something, even if it’s giving more education to those women. It really is concerning,” she said. - Cape Argus