A recent visitor to Johannesburg, the largest city in Africa, was shocked by the display of advertisements for abortion claiming ‘Quick same day abortion’, ‘Free Pain Abortion’ and ‘Abort Cheaply’. Abortion on demand for the first trimester is legal in South Africa resulting from the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996, the most liberal in Africa. The view expressed in opinion piece Abortion No Big Deal in The Citizen illustrates the glaring prominence of abortion in everyday life in South Africa, where abortion is advertised on street lamp posts, electric meter boxes and on the walls of stores. Abortion is practiced both legally and illegally.
Officially, abortion is permitted only by doctors and trained nurses yet many of these advertised services are for unlicensed abortionists, including those who claim to provide late-term abortions which are prohibited under the law. The abortion law was amended in 2008 to downscale requirements for where abortion may take place to allow the use of abortion inducing medications at home and shifts oversight of abortion regulations to the local level where governments are often poorly resourced. There is growing concern about the complications and deaths that have resulted from abortions as the maternal mortality rate has doubled since 1990. Despite the public displays promoting abortion services, abortion is still heavily debated and opposed in South Africa where religious beliefs and cherished African values respecting life from conception strongly motivate the pro-life movement.
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach has researched and written on the rise in maternal deaths in South African since the legalization of abortion in How South Africa is failing women and children. South Africa is touted by pro-abortion activists as a model for pro-abortion legislation but this well documented paper brings to light the tragic truth of the impact of abortion on the lives of women in South Africa. “According to the 2010 South African Health Review (SAHR), 625 mothers died per 100,000 live births in 2007. This is up from 369 in 2001, and it is double the 1990 rate. The SAHR explains, ‘South Africa…is actually in the small group of countries where the MMR has increased since 1990’.”
It is clear that legalizing abortion does not save women’s lives. Access to life-affirming health care will save the lives of both mothers and children. While the legalization of abortion and rampant advertising in South Africa may give the impression that “abortion is no big deal” it is the “final deal” to thousands of South African women who died in abortion and to their children whose lives were ended. Abortion is also the “deal gone bad” for countless women whose suffer the consequences of abortion everyday and regret their abortions.