Mark Steele, MPP
DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health
Women and teenage girls within the Ugu District continue to take risks when it comes to seeking non-supervised terminations of pregnancy. This is apparent from the figures provided by KwaZulu-Natal’s Health MEC to questions posed by the Democratic Alliance.
According to the response, some 225 women and girls reported at Murchison Hospital with post-abortion complaints during 2013. During the same period 267 went to the Port Shepstone Hospital. For the first quarter of this year, the figures were 55 for Murchison and 61 for Port Shepstone.
Hospital authorities cannot say for sure how many were spontaneous abortions and how many illegal terminations because patients do not always give their correct personal history on admission forms. Nurses are also understandably reluctant to question a patient aggressively as they have to respect patient autonomy.
The DOH is, however, confident that if any illegal terminations are being offered they are done ‘in a relatively safe way most likely utilising misoprostol’.
According to Wikipedia, the abortion-inducing drug misoprostol is ‘not inherently unsafe if medically supervised’ and used during the early stages of pregnancy. The concern has to be how many pregnant women resort to using misoprostol and then do so without proper medical supervision by some back street provider who has no medical training.
Medical authorities can only do so much.
Families, communities and schools all have a role to play in either providing reliable information and support to teenagers with unwanted pregnancies, or in rejecting them and thereby forcing them to seek solutions outside the care of responsible health practitioners.