Implementing the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act, no. 92 of 1996 : the pain and trauma of the abortion experience.
The research is a descriptive study of the unique and diverse experiences of women who terminated their pregnancy according to the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, No 92 of 1996. It traced the psycho-social experiences of the participants from the point of discovery to the actual abortion. The decision to terminate their pregnancy was not an easy one, yet participants chose this plan of action on the basis of their socio-economic circumstances. Moral and financial support was offered to participants from their partners, friends and/or significant others whilst no therapeutic counselling was provided prior to their making the decision to terminate their pregnancy, or the actual termination. Pre-abortion counselling was offered pre-dominantly at private health care institutions whilst none of the health care facilities provided post abortion counselling. Many of the participants had to not only endure the emotional pain of their decision but also the judgmental attitudes of the health care professionals who performed the abortion procedure. Participants were unable to make informed choices regarding the choice of abortion methods. As a result they were also unprepared for the intense physical pain they endured during the procedure. The study used the descriptive research design and a qualitative methodology. Purposive sampling technique was used to select the thirteen participants. Data were obtained through the semi-structured interview schedule. The ages of the participants ranged between 19-31 years. The study concluded that the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, No 92 of 1996 was necessary but that inadequate resources hampered provision of holistic services. In addition the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, No 92 of 1996 does not stipulate that pre and post abortion counselling should be a pre-requisite to access abortion services. This lack of counselling resulted in participants reliance on the medical professionals choice of abortion technique which in most cases was not what participants preferred. This research therefore, advocates the need for medical professionals to provide adequate information to as well as attending to the psycho-social implications for women who request to terminate their pregnancy.