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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The medical history of abortion in South Africa, c.1970-2000
Author:Hodes, RebeccaISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Geographic term:South Africa
reproductive health
medical history
Abstract:This article explores the medical history of abortion in South Africa during the last three decades of the twentieth century, focusing on the role played by doctors in their clinical encounters with abortion patients. It also examines doctors' views of the state's contested policies on abortion, while locating these policies within the wider global movement towards the legalisation of abortion. Many doctors and public health officials employed by the apartheid state occupied an ambiguous space, taking a racist and paternalistic approach to their patients, while also providing the services these patients demanded for the protection of their health, including contraception and abortion. The author combines the analysis of medical articles, laws and policies governing abortion with the oral-historical recollections of doctors, to examine how changes in abortion laws were understood in medical writing and practice during this time. Two key issues dominated public debates about abortion from the 1970s: the procurement of abortion on psychiatric grounds and the health outcomes of illegal abortions. Ultimately, changes in abortion laws reflected the political transition from apartheid to democracy, during a period in which political leaders and women's health advocates championed the legalisation of abortion despite public opposition. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]