Cape Town - An international leader in sexual and reproductive health has warned that South Africa is a “key battleground” in the fight to eradicate unsafe abortion.
Recent international research by the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank based in Washington DC, found that more than half of abortions in the country are backstreet rather than legal, and that just under two thirds of the population find abortions “morally unacceptable”.
Simon Cooke, global chief executive of Marie Stopes International, said on a recent visit to three provinces: “It is shocking that - despite having one of the most progressive abortion laws in the world - South Africa is a place where we still see women choosing backstreet providers.”
According to the Pew Center’s Global Attitudes Project, the antipathy for abortion in South Africa is not uncommon in the broader region either.
The report states: “Generally, public in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and predominantly Muslim countries in Asia and the Middle East are more willing to deem abortion morally wrong.”
“It was this report that gave us some real context as to how our work is viewed in South Africa,” said client services lead Andrea Thompson at Marie Stopes South Africa.
The stats showed that the country was “still very conservative about issues of reproductive health and justice”.
William Bird, director of Media Monitoring Africa, said adverts for backstreet abortions are “everywhere” whereas those for safe and legal terminations were not.