Have you ever noticed anti-choice protesters demonstrating outside sexual health clinics? These people believe women aren’t entitled to reproductive health rights, and are trying to scare or humiliate them for utilising these services.
If you’re a woman considering an abortion, it can be intimidating to come face to face with the protesters. It may even frighten you away. But read on, because it’s vital to know the facts about abortion – and it’s critical that you don’t give these people the power over your body, your reproductive health rights, and your life.
Abortion fact #1: Women have the right to access safe abortion services
The South African constitution has legalised abortion, and all women have the right to access safe abortions and abortion care. Moreover, women have the right to decide whether and when to have children, and to exercise their freedom of choice when it comes to reproduction. As a woman, you can choose contraception, abortion, motherhood, or adoption.
Abortion fact #2: Anti-choice protesters do not have the right to intimidate you for your choices
If you’re already anxious, stressed or emotional about having an abortion, we can only imagine how much worse, or more afraid, you might feel if you encounter anti-choice protestors at the clinic. How can these strangers feel that they have the right to judge a woman’s decision when they know nothing about her life? It is YOUR right to choose.
Abortion fact #3: There are many circumstances in which a woman can choose to terminate a pregnancy
It’s important for women to know their abortion rights. You can choose to have an abortion:
- During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- From the 13th week up to an including the 20th week of the pregnancy: if a doctor (after consulting you) believes that continuing the pregnancy could pose a risk to your physical or mental health; if there is a substantial likelihood that the foetus would suffer from a severe physical or mental abnormality; if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if the pregnancy could significantly affect your socio-economic circumstances.
- After the 20th week of pregnancy if a doctor (after consulting another doctor or registered midwife) believes that continuing the pregnancy would endanger your life, result in a severe malformation of the foetus, or would pose serious risk of injury to the foetus.
Abortion fact #4: Anti-choice protestors need to BACK OFF!
This moral crusade does a major disservice to local communities. It creates a situation in which women are afraid to seek the reproductive healthcare services that are their right, and which could help them to improve their circumstances and their lives. This, terrifyingly, can even condemn women to death, as it forces them to use illegal, backstreet abortion providers whose services are unhygienic, dangerous and potentially fatal.
Abortion fact #5: Only a pregnant woman has the rights over her pregnancy
Only a woman faced with an unwanted pregnancy (or any pregnancy) knows what the best choice is for her and her life, and that’s why the South African constitution has given women the freedom to choose. No matter what anyone says, don’t give them the power over your decisions. Hold your head high, and do what you feel is right for you. If you’re utilizing the services of a safe, legal provider like Marie Stopes, you are in good hands, with experienced doctors and nurses.