Abortion laws amended

Draft legislation to further streamline abortion laws has been tabled in Parliament. According to a memorandum attached to the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill, the measure seeks, among other things, to allow registered nurses who have undergone the prescribed training to perform abortions. It also proposes to empower provincial health MECs to approve facilities where abortions may take place, instead of the national health minister. Further, all public and private health facilities with a 24-hour maternity service will be able to end pregnancies of up to 12 weeks without permission of the MEC. The bill requires MECs to report to the minister every year on the number of facilities approved. It also makes it an offence for any person to end a pregnancy unlawfully, or allow it to be done at a facility that is not approved. (Source: SAPA, 18 November 2003) Link\//\ Draft Termination of Pregnancy Bill http://www.polity.org.za/pdf/DraftChoiOnTermOfPre.pdf

Developing and implementing a project management strategy to overcome impediments to the operation of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996 in the Free State

Published by: 
Centre for Health Systems Research & Development
This proposal is to conduct research on, and to develop and implement a management strategy to overcome impediments to the delivery of termination pregnancy (TOP) in the public health services in the Free State in the aftermath of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996 taking effect in February of 1997. The project is to be conducted over seven months and comprises three phases:

Provisional overall results from abortion values clarification workshop pilot study

The issue of abortion or termination of pregnancy in South Africa has received increasing attention throughout this year culminating in the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) Bill which was passed in November 1996.

Health system failing to provide abortions

The Medical Research Council said on Monday the health system was failing to provide women with abortion services and called for unwanted pregnancies to be recognised as a specific health risk It said that many women were still being denied access to termination of pregnancy services and were resorting to back street abortions. It also warned that besides the associated health risks, unwanted pregnancies could also result in neglect or abandoned children as well as in family violence. The MRC's Prof Jack Moodley recently found that hostile moral attitudes of health workers were one of the main factors preventing women from gaining access to legal abortions. The ignorance of women with respect to the law was cited as one of the factors preventing them from legally terminating their pregnancies. It called for women to be educated about their right to legal recourse when access or information about legal abortions was denied. Similarly the health professionals should be educated about the limitation of their rights when it came to providing information and access to abortion services. (Source: SAPA, 30 September 2002).

Back-street abortions: Good news and bad news

The same number of women are flocking to state hospitals to be treated for the consequences of botched or incomplete abortions as they did before terminations became legal five years ago.

Births Grow By Only 1,8 Percent; AIDS Blamed

The number of new-born babies registered in South Africa last year grew by only 1,82 percent from 2000, Statistics SA reported on Tuesday. At the end of 2001, the figure stood at 1433432 compared to 1407833 a year earlier. University of SA demographer Carel van Aardt ascribed the dreadfully low increase partly to the prevalence of HIV/Aids.In its later stages, the disease affects the biological capacity of a woman to have babies. We are getting an ever-increasing pool of women approaching full-blown Aids, he told Sapa. Urbanisation also played a role in the low birth rate. It saw more women entering the labour market, opting for either postponing children or settling for smaller families.Van Aardt predicted the country could by the year 2010 be close to a zero-growth figure in the number of new births registered. Stats Sa said the low increase in 2001 was a continuation of a pattern that started around 1992. Van Aardt said lower fertility was certainly a factor, but could not be only explanation for the low birth rate.This was especially true if one took into account that the use of contraceptives was not common among the majority of the population. Stats SA detected a decrease in recorded births in all months of the year.Seasonal variation of births clearly indicates that September was the month in which childbearing peaked, followed by March.In a provincial breakdown of birth registrations last year, KwaZulu-Natal came out on top, followed by the Eastern Cape and Gauteng. The Northern Cape was at the bottom of the list. Stats SA said most new mothers were between the ages of 20 and 29 last year, while fathers were mostly between and 30 and 34 years old.

Pro choice lobby joins court to defend abortion

The Reproductive Rights Alliance (RRA) has been admitted as an amicus curiae - or friend of the court - in a new challenge to the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act by the Christian Lawyers' Association (CLA). This means that when the case is heard in court on July 31, the RRA will be allowed to join the state and introduce arguments to support the state's contention that the CLA's case has no basis in law. The CLA is challenging the right of adolescents under 18 years of age to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. It argues that because the law does not legally require an adolescent to seek the consent of their parents, this is a violation of children's rights. Although the Act encourages minors to seek the counsel of parents, family or friends, it does not compel an adolescent to do so. Having failed to challenge the entire Act, in a legal bid launched in May 1997, the CLA has decided to target provisions in the Act that it finds objectionable. The RRA was a friend of the court in 1998 when the CLA unsuccessfully challenged the constitutional basis of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act and was instrumental in advocating for its enactment in 1996. (Source: Health-e, 19 July 2001)

SA Demographic and Health Survey

Published by: 
Department of Health (South Africa)
Internet version is the preliminary report. The 1998 South African Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS) is the first survey of its kind to be carried out in South Africa since the 1994 democratic national elections. The 1998 SADHS collected information on adult health conditions; sexual, reproductive and women's health; maternal and child health; adult, maternal, child and infant mortality; fertility and contraceptive use. Preparations for the study started in 1995 and the fieldwork was carried out between late January and September 1998. This report presents preliminary findings from the 1998 SADHS. It provides the results for key maternal and child health indicators including medical care for mothers during pregnancy and at the time of delivery, infant feeding practices, child immunisation coverage and the prevalence and treatment of diarrhoeal disease among children. It also provides information on women's status, fertility levels, contraceptive knowledge and use and adult health conditions. More detailed results will be presented in the final report which will be published towards the end of 1999. The information collected in the SADHS will be instrumental in identifying new directions for the national and provincial health programmes in South Africa. Data such as fertility levels, prevalence and treatment of chronic health conditions, and infant mortality levels are crucial indicators in evaluating policies and programmes and in making projections for the future. In addition, as one of more than 100 surveys carried out in the international Demographic and Health Surveys programme, it will hopefully contribute to an increased global commitment to improving the lives of mothers and children worldwide.