Maternal deaths caused by unsafe abortion a cry for reproductive justice

Reproductive justice remains an ideal in South Africa, explain two medical experts.

Reproductive justice can be described as the human right to maintain all personal bodily autonomy about one's sexual and reproductive choices.

There are still major discrepancies between progressive legislation on abortion in South Africa, versus the lived realities of women and other vulnerable groups.

Medical historian Dr Rebecca Hodes explains that many women are still seeking unsafe and illegal abortions, despite the provisions made in the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act - passed 20 years ago.

We are seeing persistently high rates of illegal terminations outside of the public health sector, even though it's meant to be legal and accessible.

Dr Rebecca Hodes, medical historian

Read: Battle continues for women's right to safe (and stigma-free) abortions

Reproductive rights advocate Marion Stevens says that maternal deaths due to unsafe abortions are on the rise as fewer designated surgical abortions centers continue to operate across the country.

Only 7% of clinics in the country have any pathway to accessing abortion.

Marion Stevens, Chairperson Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition

We have essentially made illegal abortion accessible because we are not implementing the law.

Marion Stevens, Chairperson Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition

Stevens explains that reproductive justice for women is intrinsically linked to class, geographical location and other inequalities.

Hodes and Stevens explored the systemic challenges to legal accessing abortions and the ongoing fight for reproductive justice.

Women were also invited to share their experiences of accessing reproductive services in the health sector.

Take a listen to the engaging discussion:

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