South Africa Abortions on the Rise, Number on Teenagers Has Doubled

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 19, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Africa Abortions on the Rise, Number on Teenagers Has Doubled Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 19,

Pretoria, South Africa ( — The number of abortions in South Africa is on the rise and some of the figures have more than doubled in the ten years since the nation legalized abortion in 1997. Abortions on adult women are increasing but the figures for teenagers have doubled in the last five years alone.

Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang released new figures on Wednesday showing that 9,895 teenagers 18 and young got abortions in 2006 compared with 4,423 in 2001.

He said the number of abortions on adult women has jumped from 32,679 to 71,856 during the same time period.

The information came during a question and answer session in the South African parliament when the opposition Democratic Alliance party had a chance to query the official.

The figures come from the abortions done at state medical facilities there.

The new figures also show that teen pregnancies are on the rise as well.

A 2006 General Household Survey conducted by Statistics South Africa showed 71,000 teenage girls said their pregnancy was the reason they had not been attending school recently.

South Africa introduced new abortion laws in 1997 and the pro-abortion group Ipas says that, since then, 500,000 women there have had abortions.

Professor Eddie Mhlanga, the head of obstetrics and gynecology at Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu Natal, and an Ipas board member, said statistics show there were 529,410 women having abortions since the law.

And 256,808 of the abortions happened in the last three years, showing the number of abortions is on the rise.

The rise is likely due to the fact that the number of public health facilities doing abortions has increased by 10 percent in the past two years.

Now, some 55 percent of all health centers do abortions — which is higher than the 45 percent target the government set.

South Africa is out of step with most African nations as the cultural and religious beliefs of many African nations lead them to oppose abortions.

But UN agencies and pro-abortion groups want African countries and nations in South America and Europe to make abortion legal and say the rights of women can’t be respected unless they do.

African nations have largely resisted those efforts and some countries, including Tunisia, Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Libya and others have led efforts to keep language promoting abortion out of treaties and other key UN documents.

Polls, including an October survey conducted by the Pew Research firm show that residents of African nations are strongly pro-life.

The poll asked respondents whether they believed abortion was always justified, sometimes justified, or never justified.

People living in Kenya broke down into a 0/11/88 percentage split on those categories, Nigeria citizens opposed abortion by a 1/4/94 percentage margin and South African residents opposed abortion on a 8/16/73 percentage split.

Pew also asked residents of each of the nations a biased question about whether "the government should not interfere with a woman’s ability to have an abortion."

Citizens of Kenya were most likely to say they disagree with the statement while residents of South Africa were about evenly split.

Pew’s survey polled anywhere from 600-1,005 people in each country and the polls were taken from May to September of 2006.