The Abortion Stigma in South Africa
There is a global stigma attached to the word ‘abortion’. It carries negative connotations such as ‘dirty’, ‘embarrassment’ and ‘humiliation’; this leads to women seeking ‘backstreet’ abortions, which are illegal, unsafe and often ineffective. Today, we’re fighting back in an effort to erase abortion stigma in South Africa.
- Let your voice be heard
Face the stigma head-on! An article published by the Global Fund for Women, author, Leila Hessini, says ‘Abortion stigma is directly related to women’s authority, place, and status in society.’ It’s time for all women in South Africa to speak up and be heard. Share your stories about unsafe abortion like Iminathi did – you don’t have to be afraid. By challenging the status quo, you are part of the change that needs to happen locally and globally.
Hessini concludes by saying, ‘We know that because stigma is produced for many reasons, in many ways, and against many women, only a comprehensive approach—reframing harmful language, changing discriminatory policies and practices, and ensuring implementation of quality services—will create a future where abortion stigma is part of our past.’ This is the precise mission of Marie Stopes.
- Educate yourself
Did you know that safe abortion is a human right in South Africa? Our Blue Ribbon campaign is aimed at educating women about abortion so that they can make an informed choice about their body.
We want to reach the day when all women in South Africa can say, ‘I am in control of my body, and have the legal right to a safe abortion performed by medical professionals at safe, clean and accessible women’s healthcare clinics.’
‘The Blue Ribbon campaign is a platform through which we can raise awareness about women’s legal rights to safe abortion in South Africa. We want to erase the stigma attached to the word ‘abortion’. ‘My Body. My Choice’ is more than a slogan, it’s an assurance that we support women every step of the way to ensure they can make an informed decision about their sexual and reproductive health,’ says Whitney Chinogwenya, Head of Marketing for Marie Stopes South Africa.
Marie Stopes South Africa offers two types of safe abortion procedures:
- The Marie Stopes Medication Process (often called the abortion pill)
- The Marie Stopes Procedure (a minor same-day surgical procedure)
- Just say the word!
There you go, doesn’t that feel better? ‘Abortion’ is not a dirty word. Unfortunately, a false narrative has been created that makes it seem unclean. Just say the word – don’t tiptoe around it. This is a very simple, yet effective, way to start the process of destigmatising abortion.
Marie Stopes currently has 17 centres across South Africa that offer safe abortion procedures and support. Schedule an appointment at your nearest safe abortion clinic today.