On the 10th of March 1993, Dr. David Gunn the first abortion provider murdered by the so-called “pro-life” movement was shot and killed for being an abortion provider. This year, South Africa celebrates 20 years of having one of the most progressive abortion laws in the entire world, the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1996 and yet abortion is still a very much stigmatized service in South Africa and abortion service providers face the same stigma. As a result, abortion providers in South Africa are scarce so today we show some appreciation for a few of the brave medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping women.
In South Africa, the constitution stipulates that registered midwives can perform abortions for women with pregnancies of no more than 12 weeks’ gestation which means trained professional nurses can be abortion providers too. To conclude our series on abortion provider appreciation, today we raise our hats to one of our own Marie Stopes nurses, Sessni Govender, who trained at Addington Hospital between 2003 and 2007 and worked in the maternity antenatal ward there until she joined Marie Stopes, where she has been an abortion provider since 2010. and asked her to tell us what drives her to be an abortion provider. Sr. Sesh shares with us reasons why she is motivated to wake up everyday.
- The choice to have an abortion is every woman’s right. The constitution recognizes that the decision to have children is fundamental to women’s physical, psychological and social health and that universal access to reproductive health care services includes family planning and contraception, termination of pregnancy, as well as sexuality education and counseling programmes and services
- I did not choose to be an abortion, I chose to be a sexual and reproductive healthcare provider, to give women choice and to help them with all their needs in totality, abortion is one of the choices they have a right to.
- Every woman I meet has a different life story and have different reasons for being in the Marie Stopes clinic but one thing is the same for all these women: Abortion is a primary healthcare need. Many women need the service as they have been needed in every time period and in every society and these women need safe and trained professionals.
- I care about the safety of women. Everyday many women are forced face high risk when they have to access abortion services from illegal and unsafe provider and many lose their lives as a result. I am motivated every day by the thought that my being able to provide the service means there is an increase of safe and legal access for women.
- Working at Marie Stopes has given me a place where I can help women in where I can guarantee judgement-free care, and medical treatment and guidance regardless of what that woman’s choice is.
We are grateful for all the caring and dedicated men and women whose work enables women to have a choice and helps heal lives.