Termination of pregnancy : a decision dilemma amongst young woman at a district hospital.
The number of women accessing Termination of Pregnancy Services has increased in South Africa over the last 15 years. Lieberman and Davis (1992), hold that a woman’s right to choose is embedded in the principles of social work that is self-determination, empowerment and dignity. It is a social workers responsibility to ensure that the options are available to the clients. If a client is unable to choose from an array of alternatives it is because social workers have failed to provide them with the necessary information, therefore there can be no self-determination. Women who receive health care from public facilities usually cannot afford health care from a private physician and the ability of women to make informed decisions is based on the degree of information that is made available to them. In this study the researcher looks at the road travelled in order to make the decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The process of data collection was a comprehensive, intensive process. Underpinned by the ecosystems theory, the qualitative exploratory research design was used for this research.Data was obtained through interviews from a purposeful sample of sixteen young women that attended the TOP (Termination of Pregnancy) Clinic at the research site, ranging from the ages of 18 to 35 years. This approach allowed the researcher to understand the processes and persons involved in making this decision. The assumption underlying this study was that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is a difficult one and often made with little or no support, education or guidance. The outcome of this study confirmed this assumption. The findings revealed that young woman accessing TOP services often choose TOP in isolation with limited knowledge and support from significant others. Some women requesting TOP may not want counselling but do need it. The need for counselling is stronger for those with strong religious beliefs and those that have little or no support systems. Based on the outcome of the analysis, recommendations were made with regard to the need for holistic counselling to be an integral component in health services rendered to women, with unintended pregnancies. Counseling whilst optional should be made compulsory such that a person can cope with the physical and psychological effects of an unwanted pregnancy should they decide to terminate or keep the pregnancy.