The petition urged the national and provincial departments of health to do more to ensure that women have access to safe abortions because “when a woman is denied unencumbered access to these services‚ her agency and the right to make decisions about her body are limited”.
A statement released by Gender Links on Thursday about the march said that safe and legal abortion is an urgent priority in Southern Africa. “According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)‚ safe abortions are one of the safest and simplest medical procedures in existence. Yet abortion is mostly illegal and highly frowned upon in most Southern African countries‚” read the statement.
It said despite South Africa’s strong pro-abortion laws‚ only 7% of the country’s health facilities provide abortions.
Chairperson of the TAC Sibongile Tshabalala told GroundUp that most local clinics‚ particularly in poorer communities‚ do not perform abortions if the woman has been pregnant for over 12 weeks. She said they are referred to hospitals that are far away from where they live which makes it inaccessible to them.
“If the woman is unemployed‚ she will not be able to travel that far because it is expensive so she might end up getting an illegal abortion … This is a threat to that woman’s health and safety‚” said Tshabalala.
“We have a right as women to choose what we do with our bodies without being questioned … We cannot allow men in power who do not understand women to continue making decisions on our behalf‚” she said.
* This article was originally published by GroundUp.