Abortion is an intended termination of a human pregnancy which can only be done from fertilization to 28 weeks of pregnancy. It has come to my attention that the South African youth population, let alone the youth population around the world, take this psychologically damaging procedure very lightly because they resort to abortion as a form of contraceptives without hesitation and are unaware of the horrid disadvantages. Many teenagers are going through inappropriate and disturbing situations like abortion procedures which is extremely life changing. These teenagers result in living life with regret and are psychologically and emotionally damaged instead of living a stress-free life and enjoying their social lives while they are young. Therefore, this states the reasoning as to why I decided to make an investigation about the South African youth population being quick to resort to abortion as a form contraceptive method.
During the time given to prepare this investigation, I did an extensive research about the topic and I took down the use of statistics to help intensify the seriousness of the dilemma. I took the time to make use of a large variety of sites to gather a sufficient amount of information which would help me and the reader to understand the situations. I had an interview with a healthcare professional discussing how often teenagers go to her clinic, based in Benoni South Africa, to request for an abortion and her input on the abortion epidemic amongst South African teenagers.
Poverty was a major factor in this study which led teenagers to opt for TOP with the reason that they were unable to take care of themselves and that to have a child was a burden upon them and their families. Teenagers felt bringing another burden to the family would worsen financial problems in their families as most of them depended on social grants of grandparents. This implied educating high school teens regarding teenage pregnancy.
Alcorn14 found that financial problems were also a challenge, causing poverty because of a lack of resources to cover the staggeringly high cost associated with pregnancy, birth and child rearing, especially if they do not have health insurance. Saving for a baby is one thing, but an unplanned pregnancy places an enormous financial burden on a teen who cannot afford to care for an infant. Teenagers in Europe view TOP as a way of preventing poverty because they are economically disadvantaged. Lack of adequate medical care during pregnancy places a newborn at a high risk for complications during birth and in early infancy.15
Sub-theme 1.2: Relationship problems and single parenthood
The majority of female teenagers with unplanned pregnancies do not live with their partners or have committed relationships. These teenagers realised that in all likelihood they will be raising their child as single parent due to the denial by the partner and in some instance by their parents. Many are unwilling to take this big step because of interruptions of education or career, insufficient financial resources or inability to care for an infant because of care-giving needs of other children or family members.
Literature reveals that teens do not prefer to bring up children on their own because of their partners’ attitudes and would not be able to meet the needs of their children and their quality of life.15 Even in situations involving teens cohabitating with their partners, the outlook for unmarried teens as single mothers is discouraging; for teens in their 20s living with their partners at the time of birth, one-third ended their relationships within 2 years.16
Sub-theme 1.3: Negative impact on the teen’s life while attending school
Pregnant learners were found to opt for TOP as pregnancy at their age interferes with learning and education. It implies that learners realise the lifelong impact of pregnancy when they have actually fallen pregnant themselves. Some schools were also found not to allow pregnant learners to attend school or required that they at least bring a parent to assist in cases of emergency.
Pregnancy that occurs in the wrong place at the wrong time can have a lifelong impact on a teenager’s ability to raise a child and earn a living. Less than half of teens who become mothers before the age of 18 graduate from high school, and college students who become pregnant are much less likely to complete their education than their peers.17,18 In Nigeria, teenagers view an immediate solution to an unplanned pregnancy by opting for TOP because they do not want interference with schooling.5,19
Sub-theme 1.4: Lack of knowledge
One of the major findings of this study was lack of information and education to high school learners regarding contraceptives to prevent unplanned pregnancies. There is need for collaborative efforts by healthcare providers from the clinics, school health nurses and private organisations to enhance health education talks including contraceptive use.
To prevent unplanned pregnancy, both boys and girls should have a good knowledge of conception and contraception, thorough discussion and commitment to assume shared responsibility of birth control, as well as constituent use of effective contraceptive methods. It implies a lack of knowledge and education regarding family planning use for teens at high schools and in the communities. Factors that result in an unplanned pregnancy leading to TOP may include no contraceptive use, contraceptive used wrongly, for example, forgetting to take oral contraceptive pill or wearing condom incorrectly, and contraceptive failure, for example, using contraceptive products beyond their expiry date.20,21
Theme 2: Teenager’s fears regarding pregnancy
Sub-theme 2.1: Stigma, fear of parents and friends
The study revealed fears of the stigma associated with pregnancy by high school teens. These teens are aware that falling pregnant as a teen at high school was not proper; hence, they chose TOP as a solution. Participants also feared their parents would be angry with them should they fall pregnant while at school as they were not yet ready to be grandparents. A gap was identified in this study to educate learners at high school regarding teenage pregnancy and contraceptives.
One of the main reasons teenage girls choose abortion is because they fear the stigma of being a pregnant teenager. While getting pregnant in high school is obviously not ideal and there are many hardships that come with the choice, the commendable thing to do is definitely to take off the problem by visiting a TOP clinic. Teens, in general, are more inclined to worry about what their parents, families and friends would say and think when they find out they are pregnant; therefore, they are scared that they would disappoint them and be in trouble.5 A social stigma was attached to pregnant, unmarried teens, and this increased the likelihood that unmarried teens opt for TOP. Recognition of this stigma usually led to fear, shame and embarrassment as well as decline in initial communication with family members. Fear of reaction of parents and friends increased secrecy.21,22
‘Teens using abortion as contraception’
Parenting / 29 July 2013, 12:39pm / Chantal Halata
Let’s hope SA teen pregnancy statistics follow those of the UK and take a real drop soon. Picture: Lebohang Mashiloane
Kimberley – Girls as young as 16 are using abortion as a means of contraception, with some having up to three or more abortions a year.
This is according to the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who was addressing the second national conference of the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) on Saturday in Kimberley.
Motsoaledi said that effective family planning had died in clinics and young girls were not trying to prevent falling pregnant but were, instead, having abortions.
“The legalising of abortions in 1996 has opened a market for illegal abortion clinics which target young girls by advertising their services while doctors are not allowed to advertise abortions.”
He said that another danger was that girls as young as nine years old were starting to menstruate.
“These young girls are not being made aware of the dangers of pregnancy or the fact that even after a miscarriage or abortion they can fall pregnant again after six weeks.”
Abortion used as birth control by teens
Most South African teenagers use abortion as a form of contraception.
The New Age reported today that doctors in the public sector warned after more than 400 000 legal abortions were performed in the country between 2008 and last year.
This was revealed by statistics from the national health department and Marie Stopes Clinic, a non-governmental clinic with 37 branches across the country.
The figure does not include legal abortions performed by other NGOs, private sector and the illegal operations.
“It is shocking how girls as young as 17 have resorted to using abortion as a form of contraception,” said a member of the Junior Doctors Association and head of War Against Teenage Pregnancy Dr Adelaide Narx.
According to statistics, in 2008 , 400 000 legal abortions were performed amongst teenagers and 63 % of sexually active females between age of 15 and 19 are not using contraceptives. This clearly shows that there is a large number of teenagers who are oblivious to the disadvantages of abortion.
From the information above, I have deduced that the major factors that cause induced abortion are financial and social problems. Abortion is very common among teenagers who are living in rural areas. As we may know, people who live in rural areas generally have minimal access to any fundamental needs that an average human would have access to, such as good quality education.
These teenagers are unaware of the consequences of abortion because the teachers do not educate them properly about it and do not put emphasis on the dangers of it. Teenagers tend to ignore the use of safe contraceptives such as condoms or morning after pill. A morning after pill is a pill that is taken within 72 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse has taken place. This is known to be very effective. Boys and girls are not taught how to use contraceptives correctly which may result in unwanted pregnancies.
There are infections which can be spread via sexual intercourse such as HIV/AIDS and sexual transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, Herpes and Syphilis. These diseases can ruin a teenager’s life and refrain the teenager from living a very miserable lifestyle all because of the wrong choices made. It is also very difficult to conceive after termination because the uterus can develop a scar cause by the procedure, thus making it impossible for the teenager to fall pregnant or carry the baby to full term in the future.
Financial crisis plays a role in Termination of Pregnancy (TOP). Having a child has a teenager, when you are not financially stable, or working is a huge burden to the rest of the family and a baby has a lot of needs such as clothing’s, access to medical facilities for checkups, payments for giving birth at a hospital etc.
Teenagers also find if very difficult to face their parents for falling pregnant, because being pregnant whilst still in high school is ludicrous. They are afraid of how their parents would react to the situation and fear the comments from surrounding people within the community. There are many hardships to face when it comes to being pregnant whilst in high school because both education and an infant require great attention from their parents, so being pregnant in high school will most definitely be a challenge. According to the source above, very few teenagers who become mothers before the age of 18 graduate from high school but most of the finish school a lot later than their peers, which may be shameful.
Some teenagers refuse to raise their child as a single parent due to the absence of their partner or lack of commitment in a relationship which would then lead to induced abortion. They would be incapable of supporting the child alone. The partner would not be able to fathom that the child’s needs are very important therefore not having the attitude and mindset of a supportive father. Some teenager’s parents are also denial when it comes to supporting the child financially due to the disappointment and anger.
It is extremely mandatory for the youth population not only in South Africa, but across the world to be aware of the dangers undergoing an abortion procedure, so that they can refrain themselves from being exposed to difficult situations mentioned above. There should be a guideline of how to use contraceptives correctly so prevent unwanted pregnancies. INTERVIEW WITH A HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL
Q: What is the job that you do and what is so meaningful about it ?
A: I am a health care professional. I am so passionate about helping people, especially the sick and helpless people. Making people feel better so that they are able to live normal lives makes me feel joyful.
Q: Have you ever come across teenagers who are desperate to undergo an abortion procedure? If so, how does it make you feel?
A: I cry inside. I don’t understand how a teenager could call pregnant, because as a teenager, you are expected to be in school and not indulge in things that could lead you into trouble. They are meant to fulfil roles that are expected of a teenager.
Q: Do you believe that an unborn foetus is still living ?
A: Yes, I strongly believe so. As it says in the bible, ” Thou shall not kill”
Q: Why do you think teenagers resort to abortion ?
A: Not ready to take care of the child, still in school and cannot face parents and the community. They could be financially unstable. Biologically, a teenage body is not fully mature enough to carry a baby. In this day and age, schools do put emphasis on the dangers of abortion but and falling pregnant as a teenager but some of them are ignorant to the knowledge.
Q: Have you ever tried to convince teenagers to avoid going for abortion? If so , how did you do so ?
A: I’d take them in for counselling and state the complications of abortion, like not being able to have kids in the future due to the scarring of the uterus, I’d also encourage family planning.
Q: On average, how many teenagers within a month to your clinic to request an abortion?
A: Average of 10-15 .
Q: What do you think that teenagers are unaware of when it comes to abortion?
A: They are not aware of the physical and psychological effects and can start living their life with regrets.
Q: What advise would you give to teenage girls for avoiding complicating issues as such?
A: Leave boys alone and deal with relationships at a later stage when you’re responsible because by that time, maturity would have sunken in.