Soros Funds International Abortion Conference in South Africa
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The third Abortion & Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution conference took place in South Africa through funding from George Soros’ Open Society to pursue the overturning of laws against abortion around the world claiming that abortion is “reproductive justice” and the quest to obtain universal access to abortion equals a “revolution”. Open Society operates thanks to George Soros stating that it has “supported individuals and organizations across the globe fighting for freedom of expression, accountable government, and societies that promote justice and equality” but fails not only to respect the right to life of children in the womb and the injustice of abortion but fails to respect national sovereignty as it funds efforts to reverse laws against the violence of abortion.

The conference took place at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa with official support from the government. The Director of Population and Development at South African Department of Social Development, Jacques van Zuydam, opened the conference, “The government that I represent was elected to continue to fight this struggle, as well as to advocate globally for the full realisation of all women’s rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health and justice. We are committed to do our best to contribute to finishing the unfinished revolution,” he said.

Professor Catriona Macleod, SARCHI Chair: Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction at Rhodes University cited the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy of President Trump as an impediment to the advance of abortion globally. She explained that despite the vote to remove pro-life protections in Ireland “…there is either progress reversal, as seen by the US introducing this gag rule, or no progress at all, as in the case of Northern Ireland electing to keep its restrictive abortion laws. We are clearly still far from winning the fight for reproductive justice.”

The conference was attended by international pro-abortion organizations and 285 delegates from 26 countries, primarily Africa. The reversal of laws throughout Africa protecting unborn children from the violence of abortion was a main target of the meeting and is a key focus of the international pro-abortion lobby.

According to Macleod, “The reason for us proposing to host the conference in Africa was to bring the conversation, scholarship, and exploration of issues and activism to those living in jurisdictions where abortion access is restricted either legally or through social barriers, while at the same time hearing from scholars, activists and service providers from across the globe.”

The 2016 conference held in Northern Ireland was credited by speaker Fiona Bloomer from Ulster University, Northern Ireland with helping to achieve the yes vote to repeal Ireland’s pro-life amendment, “It helped in building relationships between activists involved in campaigns on the island of Ireland and between academics and activists. It also highlighted health and human rights arguments which helped inform the wider debate, and provided many opportunities to learn from activists, health professionals and academics around the world,” she explained.

The event included participants from African countries of Burkina Faso, Benin, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar and South Africa. Other attendees were from Haiti, Jamaica, Venezuela, Argentina, Philippines, India, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and the United States of America.

The International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion described the resistance to access to abortion in select African countries:

“While South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique have liberal abortion legislation, implementation has been lackluster at best. In contrast, Zimbabwean, Malawian, and Namibian legislation remains highly restrictive; legal abortions are rare, and women who obtain unsafe abortions frequently do not seek post-abortion care for fear of repercussions. Abortion is socially, culturally and religiously stigmatized. Malawi is currently reviewing a proposed revision to the abortion law. Mozambique recently (late 2014) implemented legal reforms on abortion despite strong opposition from religious groups in the country.”

Organizers are also seeking greater access to abortion in South Africa and cited a 2017 report from Amnesty International that “found that less than 7% of the country's 3,880 public health facilities perform termination of pregnancy. This number is far less than the 505 medical facilities designated by the Department of Health to perform terminations of pregnancy across South Africa. Despite the fact that abortion is legal in South Africa, it is estimated that between 52 and 58% of the estimated 260 000 abortions that take place in South Africa every year are illegal.”

According to the program, participants gathered in small groups to discuss strategies to change laws in Africa during Advocacy for Safe Abortion in Policy and Practice in Africa including, “Decriminalization of abortion: whether, to what extent, and how” and “How medical abortion pills are changing everything (or should be)”.

The overview of the third topic “Understanding the basis of the opposition to abortion today and how to address it” took exception with the idea that attempts to impose the western concept of abortion on Africa is against traditional African values and beliefs. It stated: “The anti-abortion movement is highly influential in many countries, often seeking to assert religious control over state policy, and working from local level to the United Nations. In some cases, they claim abortion is "foreign" and "against traditional culture" when in fact the aim is to keep women pregnant and maintain patriarchal control over women's lives.”

This topic revealed pro-abortion strategies currently underway including by the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights to use the Maputo Protocol to bring about legalization of abortion in line with the treaty. Success to liberalize abortion in Ethiopia and Mozambique was discussed and compared to ‘stalled’ efforts in Sierra Leone and Malawi and efforts in Kenya that was claimed to have not resulted in greater access to abortion or “have gone backwards”.

Opposition, resistance, to abortion by male religious and traditional leaders was discussed as was “cultural values to oppose law reform and the widespread belief that abortion is bad”.

Concern about the weakness of public health systems were discussed including “the lack of training for providing abortion care at primary level, and the lack of involvement in fostering change on the part of many health professionals and policymakers”. 

It was lamented that abortion-inducing drugs—especially misoprostol alone—are not being used in Africa as in other regions of the world: “As regards medical abortion, although self-use of medical abortion pills is happening in most legally restricted settings, it is still occurring less in Africa than in other regions. Pills (most often misoprostol only) may be obtained from pharmacies and drug sellers, but their quality is uncertain and information on how to use them is greatly lacking. Private providers cater for women who can pay. And in Kenya, Malawi, Morocco and Nigeria, for some women at least, there are safe abortion information hotlines to contact. Research from Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Benin, about to be published, shows how problematic the experience of self-use of pills has been in some of the poorest countries…”

Tunisia and Ethiopia were mentioned as “examples of success both in law reform and provision of medical abortion by mid-level providers” but it was acknowledged that “in most countries in Africa, evidence that midwives, nurses, community health workers and other primary care providers, including trained pharmacy workers, can safely provide MVA and/or medical abortion at primary and community level is not widely known and is not being implemented.”

Currently, only four countries in Africa allow broad access to abortion: South Africa, Cape Verde, Tunisia, and Zambia while 10 of the 54 African countries do not allow abortion for any reason.

PNCI warns pro-life advocates in Africa. Pro-abortion activists are preparing to bring their abortion revolution to your countries to overturn laws against the violence of abortion with help from George Soros and his Open Society. Open Society, in contrast to its name, promotes a society that is closed to the protection of the youngest and most vulnerable children from the violence of abortion.