Thursday, July 17, 2014

South Africa: New Target in the Fight Against "Unsafe" Abortion

Safe and Legal!

Recent international research by the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank based in Washington DC, found that more than half of abortions in the country are backstreet rather than legal, and that just under two thirds of the population find abortions “morally unacceptable”.

Simon Cooke, global chief executive of Marie Stopes International, said on a recent visit to three provinces: “It is shocking that - despite having one of the most progressive abortion laws in the world - South Africa is a place where we still see women choosing backstreet providers.”

Remember how legalizing abortion was supposed to make everything great?

Poor-choicers like to make comparisons about countries that legalize abortion compared to those that don't.

You can't. And this shows why.

Because it's a matter of the healthcare system, and what the culture is in regards to healthcare.

Western countries have a very scientific, very "hygienic" view of healthcare.

In other countries, the local herbalist is as valid a source of medical knowledge as the college-educated doctor.

And legality has nothing to do with it. People break the laws with impunity, given the lax or arbitrary state of law enforcement.

What would happen if South Africa cracked down on these illegal abortion providers?

Women wouldn't get their abortions. There would be too few legal abortionists for the demand.

So they're not going to crack down on these illegal providers.

That's how it often works in Third World countries. That's why the saying that countries with legal abortion have fewer abortions is bogus (among other reasons). They don't want the political fallout from legalizing abortion, but they're perfectly happy to have backstreet abortion clinics.

The South Africans aren't going to do anything about these clinics. They might crack down on the most notorious abortionists, but as long as they keep their head down, nobody is going to prosecute them.

It's the same thing in Latin American countries. If abortions are allowed to happen, it's because political elites allow it. The laws are not strictly enforced.

All this to say that a lot of  what people say about legal/illegal abortion is bogus. Legality has nothing to do with whether abortion is "safe" or "unsafe".