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Safe and Legal? The Cost of Abortion to Women

A few months ago, a woman was awarded R500 000 in damages by a Pretoria Court because of a botched abortion, which resulted in an emergency hysterectomy and left her unable to bear any more children.

The woman claimed the damages from Dr GMM Leeuw, who was on duty on January 22 1999 when she went to the Marie Stopes Clinic in Pretoria for an abortion. The woman said Leeuw examined her and told her he could perform the abortion.She said she was very nervous and the nurse told her not to worry. The woman could not see what he was doing, but she could feel the doctor working inside her. “The next moment I felt a burning pain. He stopped and he spoke to the nurses. He then continued and I once again felt the burning pain.”

She said the doctor told that her cervix was too narrow and he could not perform the procedure. He gave her two tablets and told her to wait about 30 minutes. The woman said that after some time the doctor again attempted to abort the baby. However, he stopped when she felt the burning pain again.

She said she was told to undergo the abortion in a hospital and given a referral letter. The woman said the doctor told her to come back the next week if necessary. The nursing sister, she said, told her to come back the next day as there would be a gynaecologist on duty to do the procedure.

She went back the next day and the specialist stopped the procedure after she again experienced the pain. He told her she had a tear in her cervix and referred her to another specialist. The other specialist told her the wound was septic. He gave her medication and sent her home.
The woman said her house doctor eventually admitted her to hospital, where she had a miscarriage a few hours later and an emergency hysterectomy the next day. The doctor denied any negligence and claimed that he only performed one procedure on the woman and that he did not make a second attempt to abort the baby. He claimed he could not speak Afrikaans, but that he told the nurses to tell the patient that the clinic could not perform the abortion because her cervix was too narrow and that he referred her to a hospital.

“…women who have been physically injured by abortion mostly do not report their injuries, and negligent abortion practitioners are not prosecuted”

The court also heard that the Health Professions Council refused to conduct an inquiry into what had happened. The council in a letter to the woman said it could not establish any wrongdoing on the part of the doctor.

The case above is a good illustration of the lie that legalising abortion makes it safer. Unfortunately, because of the nature of abortion, and the shame and guilt involved, women who have been physically injured by abortion mostly do not report their injuries, and negligent abortion practitioners are not prosecuted. We at pro-life receive calls from women who are experiencing complications from abortions, who are still bleeding and haemorrhaging weeks after the abortion procedure. We hear from doctors who treat women who have been injured by legal abortion.

Some of these patients are girls who have not told their parents that they have had abortions, and therefore have no one to turn to for help when complications occur. They have often been exploited by private abortion clinics, which charge thousands of Rands for an abortion. They are silent victims of abortion, whose stories of trauma and pain are not reported in the glowing reports made by the Department of Health, which claim that the legalisation of abortion has led to an improvement in maternal heath.

Abortion always leaves one person dead, but it also leaves one wounded – the mother who has made the tragic mistake of taking the life of her child, either physically, emotionally or psychologically. We must not forget these women who make this choice, very often out of fear, and we must expose the lie that abortion helps women. Abortion is a reflection that we as a society have not met the needs of women. Abortion entrenches the objectification of women and takes away from them one thing that women can do that men can’t – bring new life into the world.

1 Comment

  • Jul 11th 201207:07
    by Elonka Ueberberg

    Please send me any information so I can help to get involved.
    Elonka Ueberberg

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