Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)

Mothers who abort never really request to bury the foetus, says abortion advocacy group

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Apr 10, 2021

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Gauteng - While the parents of babies miscarried at under 26 weeks can finally bury their foetus if they so wish, whether or not mothers who terminate pregnancy should be given the same allowance remains a heated debate.

A mother who requested to remain anonymous said she opted to have an abortion at six weeks and didn’t want to have the option of burying the foetus as a funeral would result in a lot of questions from friends and family regarding her choice to abort.

She said even if she were to be in a judgement-free zone, she still would have not wanted a funeral as it would have made her feel like it was murder.

For her, she said the decision to abort her baby was due to the fact that she had just given birth to her first-born child and had tried a number of contraceptives that ended up making her feel horribly sick.

The doctor she was seeing at the time had also assured her that she would not get pregnant as she was still breastfeeding.

“Despite this warning I got pregnant and I just wasn’t physically or emotionally ready to have another child.

“Just the idea of giving birth again was a nightmare.

“I felt and still feel an enormous amount of relief for not having the baby at that time even though I do sometimes wonder how it would’ve turned out.”

The Joburg mother, however, said while she understood why mothers who miscarried at under 26 weeks should be afforded the right to bury their baby as in some cases it (the baby) would have already even started kicking.

She did not understand why someone who had an abortion would also want to hold a funeral for the foetus.

Another woman who miscarried at 14 weeks of her pregnancy said she would not have been able to deal with a funeral while she was still coming to terms with losing her baby in August 2019.

She said this was due to the fact that even though she lost the baby due to a miscarriage she still felt a lot of stigmas culturally that were directed towards her.

“Even though I didn’t believe a lot of what was told to me it still affected me negatively because in my culture the loss of a baby signifies that bad luck will lurk around me if I don’t get cleansed or adhere to other cultural customs.

“I think the constitution was flawed, unfair and unjustified in not giving mothers who miscarried options irrespective of the duration of pregnancy.

“Every woman should have the right to bury their baby regardless.”

Gaopalelwe Phalaetsile, co-owner for Abortion Support South Africa advocacy group and information hub connecting people to abortion facilities across the country, said most people who opted for termination never really requested to bury the foetus or wanted to talk about the procedure itself afterwards.

She said the scenario was a different story for people who had to abort for medical reasons, and unfortunately had to go through with termination as their lives were at risk should they continue with the pregnancy.

“A lot of people abort for different reasons; not everybody aborts because they want to. I can imagine that those who want to do cleansing or traditional ceremonies would love the opportunity to also be able to bury the foetus.”

“So far though I have never gotten that request where someone asked for the foetus’s remains. But I believe there are some who want to but people have certain priorities when it comes to the termination process.”

Despite this, she said the option of burial should be afforded to all mothers and women, however, as it stands now due to the stigma still attached to abortions it would be hard to begin the process.

“I think giving everyone that option would be a great way to help mothers and women who have miscarried and aborted to not only respect their traditions but also as a form of healing. Some can get it done and not worry about what happens afterwards whilst others may want closure through a burial.”

Pretoria News

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