Legal abortion is a Constitutional right in South Africa. Our Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (COTPA) is one of the most liberal legal frameworks for abortion services in the world.
Despite this, only 52% of the health facilities obligated to provide legal and safe abortions are doing so, according to a report published this year by Amnesty International, an organisation safeguarding human rights.
The report, entitled Barriers to Safe and Legal Abortion in South Africa, cites “lack of access to information on sexual and reproductive rights, including how and where to access legal abortion services,” as one of the foremost barriers to legal abortion in South Africa.
Fighting to bridge the gap between rights on paper and rights in practice, is Season’s Crisis Pregnancy Centre in Stellenbosch, which is described as “pro-woman” on its Facebook page.
When women who need help come to Seasons Clinic, which is situated on Merriman Street in Stellenbosch, they are taken through a step-by-step process to evaluate their needs.
“[We] make contact, reduce anxiety, focus on issues, evaluate resources [and refer them] to relevant organisations,” said Dalet Kleinhans, a Season’s counsellor. Seasons provides services that include pregnancy testing, giving vital information about abortion or adoption processes, and advice about what to do after an abortion or pregnancy.
“Legal abortion is a long process” and “women are not informed about places to go to get legal abortions,” said Dalet when asked why illegal abortion continues to be so rife. She believes that more clinics that focus specifically on providing legal abortions would make legal abortion more accessible.
Many women have to travel to access specific abortion services that are not legally provided close by. “Stellenbosch can only do up to 8 weeks, after that they must go to Paarl or Somerset West,” explained Dalet. If travelling distances are too far or too expensive, the use of illegal and dangerous abortion services become more likely because they are close by and cheaper.
Despite the positive efforts of organisations like Seasons, the conclusion of Amnesty International’s report remains grim.
20 years have passed since the promulgation of the COTPA, but according to the report, its implementation continues to remain “inadequate” to the extent of violating the “government’s obligations under International Human Rights Law”. – Holly Charlton
Access the #SizaMap, which was created this year by Bhekisisa, to find out where legal abortion facilities are in South Africa: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1uxoWxVvObpAdB9pFHHtSZfPc40c&ll=-29.934841977738493%2C24.146095775415233&z=5
Contact Seasons Crisis Pregnancy Clinic by calling this number: 079 553 1017