Your body, your choice… or is it? What are your rights when it comes to contraception and pregnancy termination? Here, we help you to understand.
Condom use: his choice or hers?
When it comes to safe sex, condom use is recommended even if you’re using birth control, because only condoms can protect against STIs and HIV. But which partner decides whether or not to use a condom?
The truth is, you ‘both’ decide
While the person wearing the condom has the right to choose whether or not to use it, you have the option to say ‘no’ to sex if they refuse. Safe sex is the responsibility of both partners, and if your partner is unwilling to play it safe by using protection, you have a right to turn down sex. However, men decide whether or not to use condoms.
Uh oh – I’m facing an unplanned pregnancy. Do I need his permission to have an abortion?
This is a hotly debated topic, and one that was recently covered in an episode of the popular TV show Girls, in which one of the characters has an abortion without consulting her partner. See the clip here.
Of course, in certain parts of the world, lawmakers would like to place limitations on abortions, and on when and how a woman may have a termination. Rick Brattin, a state representative in Missouri, believes that women should require a man’s permission before being permitted an abortion, except in the case of rape, in which case she’d have to ‘prove’ she really was raped. Crazy, right? Read more here.
What does the South African constitution say?
The Constitution protects all South Africans, and gives everyone the right to make decisions regarding reproduction. This means that men decide whether or not to wear a condom during sex, women decide whether or not they wish to use contraceptives, and in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, women have the right to decide whether or not to terminate. We are extremely fortunate in South Africa to have a constitution that supports and safeguards the sexual health rights of all people. Read more about it here, and make sure you know your rights.
What does society say?
South Africa is a highly patriarchal society and men have historically had the decision-making power on virtually all aspects of life. This means that even when it comes to matters regarding women’s bodies, men have always had the final say on what happens in the family – including when it comes to reproduction.
What does Marie Stopes say?
Marie Stopes South Africa abides by the laws laid down by the Constitution. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act (38 of 2004) gives every woman the right to choose whether to have an early, safe and legal termination of pregnancy, up to the 20th week of gestation.
Our mission is to empower women and couples to have children by choice.
We encourage all our clients to discuss their decision to terminate with their partners before visiting us; however, it is not a prerequisite for using our services, and you can still choose to terminate even if you come to this decision alone.
Looking for a safe, legal abortion or contraceptive advice? We can help
Marie Stopes centres across South Africa offer safe, legal abortions, as well as various types of short and long-term contraceptives and advice on choosing the right kind.
Find out more about contraceptives or our abortion procedure, and then contact us online or on 0800 11 77 85 for information, advice or help. Remember that all our services are provided in a non-judgemental and confidential environment, and that you can count on us to offer the best possible care, whatever your situation.