Backstreet abortion from professional nurse lands woman in ICU
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The male nurse, 53, employed at the Far East Rand Hospital in Ekurhuleni was suspended with immediate effect while his case had been referred to the SA Nursing Council for further investigation. He is also facing criminal charges.
The hospital’s chief executive, Constance Ndobe, said the “backyard abortion” was allegedly carried out at the nurse’s home in Tsakane on Friday. The 28-year-old woman is also from the township.
“He was off duty when he invited her to his house. We believed he gave her a Cytotec tablet which is commonly used at the hospital for termination of pregnancy.
“We don’t know how he got hold of it,” said Ndobe.
The pill is one of two drugs administered when terminating a pregnancy as it causes the uterus to contract and expel the foetus and other pregnancy-related tissues through the vagina.
It was alleged that the nurse administered the tablet orally but the “patient” had a negative reaction to it.
“He did some manipulation which led to complications that saw the patient collapse. He then took her to the Far East Rand Hospital under the guise that she was his girlfriend.
“He further lied to the staff that she randomly started bleeding vaginally and had diarrhoea at his house. But she then confessed that he had given her the abortion tablet,” said Ndobe.
She could not confirm if the nurse had charged for the illegal procedure.
The woman was transferred to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, where she was placed in ICU.
The 22-week-old foetus had died as a result of the procedure.
It is illegal to abort a foetus that is older than 20 weeks unless there are compelling reasons such as a threat to the life of the expectant mother.
Springs police spokesperson Warrant Officer Johannes Ramphora confirmed a case of concealment of birth had been opened.
“We are still going to interview the women and the doctors that assessed her. There is still a lot of work that the investigator still needs to do before we can effect the arrest,” said Ramphora.
The woman’s family, who were apparently unaware of the pregnancy, had a meeting with the hospital’s management on Saturday.
“Her mother was very emotional especially that this was done by a nurse who lives among them. We are also heartbroken that one of us was implicated in something like this," Ndobe said.
Backyard abortions are one of the biggest challenges facing the Department of Health despite it being free and legal at state facilities.
During the Abortion and Reproductive Justice Conference in Makhanda, Eastern Cape, it was said that despite the fact that abortion was legal in South Africa until 20 weeks, it was estimated that between 52% and 58% of about 260000 abortions that took place in the country yearly were illegal.
Poor access to public health facilities that can conduct safe abortion was among the reasons for the spike in numbers of illegal terminations.
An Amnesty International report in 2017 declared that less than 7% of the country’s 3880 public health facilities perform termination of pregnancy.