Monday menu: are SA youngsters up to date with the ABC’s of abortion?

So how much do South African youngsters know about abortion legislation, and what it all entails? Most know that it is legal to get an abortion, but their knowledge about the actual details are quite limited. That was some of the findings in a study by Devashnee Ramiyad and Cynthia Patel of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It is published in the South African Journal of Child Health.

Their results showed that:

  • although 80% of the sample was aware of the legal status of abortion in this country, they showed limited knowledge of specific aspects of the Act
  • 10.7% were aware of the period of gestation when termination is allowed
  • 6.7% knew the age at which a person could request an abortion without parental permission
  • 20.7% were aware of the different methods of abortion
  • 28.7% knew who is allowed to perform the procedure
  • 29.3% were aware that it is a criminal offence to prevent or obstruct access to a legal abortion.
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“While the majority of those sampled were aware of the legal status of abortion in this country, they demonstrated a lack of knowledge on specific aspects of the Act,” writes Ramiyad and Patel. “Recognition of adolescents’ right to information is central to responsible decision-making among the youth about sexual and reproductive health issues.”

Although this sample does not claim to represent the youth of South Africa, the findings correspond with the emerging pattern of lack of information and low levels of support for abortion from other studies.”

“Recognition of the right to information as the most basic aspect of reproductive rights should be central in the Life Orientation classes offered in schools and in the efforts of non-government organisations if youth knowledge and awareness is to improve,” they add.

Download the article here.

Reference: Ramiyad, D, & Patel, C. (2016). Exploring South African adolescents’ knowledge of abortion legislation and attitudes to abortion: Sexual status and gender differences, South African Journal of Child Health

Engela Duvenage

Co-founder of Day job: Science writer and science communicator who loves turning research papers into news stories. Claim to fame: mother of two daughters; winner of the Izethelo Award for Outstanding Journalism (2016) from the South African fruit industry, and winner of the best technical article award (2016) as presented by the South African Agricultural Writers' Association Background: MPhil (Journalism, specialising in science journalism) and HonsBA (Psychology).

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