Safe legal abortion not a taboo
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… it’s essential health care for women and girls
By Mary Mohlatsane
A legalise abortion activist Lintle Ramatla says a safe abortion is essential health care and human right that women and girls should be free to exercise without fear of being judged.
“Most women and girls who had unwanted pregnancies are forced to get married and experience poor family planning.
“Those in high school and tertiary institutions who keep the pregnancy are forced to leave school and so eventually some choose to abort,” Ramatla said.
Ramatla said many Basotho women and girls face many problems when they find out about unplanned pregnancy.
She said problems encountered include; “being rejected by the partner and family, being forced by their partner to abort, low income, poverty and many more. Women and girls should be allowed to do abortions legally as some pregnancies are not planned- some may be raped and will not want to keep the baby.
“Girls in high schools and tertiary institutions are forced to leave school after being noticed that they are pregnant, however, leave no choice to others but to terminate”.
World Health Organisation (WHO), shows that over six million unsafe abortions occur in Africa resulting in 29 000 deaths and serious injuries and disabilities every year. WHO further shows most victims are poor African women and girls under the age of 25, living in rural areas.
Ramatla said in a country like Lesotho, where abortion is illegal or highly restricted, the act put the lives of women and girls at risk such as injuries from unsafe abortions and some lose their lives in the process.
“It also poses risks to women’s physical and mental well-being throughout their lives and also the maternal mortality rates liked to unsafe abortions rise,” she said.
“Some face the trauma to an extent that they get arrested when they are found to have aborted. Others lose their partners because of unwanted pregnancies,” she said.
Ramatla said most of the victims have no idea about the proper use of contraceptives or family planning.
“Myths, religious-related restrictions and cultural norms make it difficult for some girls. Some use traditional methods to prevent pregnancy,” she said, adding that lack of access to health services was another barrier.
She added there is a dire need for Lesotho to start investing in educating people about safe abortions to save the lives of women and girls.
“Our country must really prioritize women’s health over politics and religion,” she said.