THE 2022 State of the World Population Report launched last week revealed that about 60 percent of unintended pregnancies in Lesotho end in abortion.
The report further indicates that despite efforts by the government and development partners to promote Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), unintended pregnancies continue to rise.
It further showed that 35, 71 percent of adolescents aged between 10 to 15 years were admitted to health centres for obstetric and gynaecological attention due to abortion in 2019.
An estimated 8, 17 percent teenage girls aged between the ages of 15 to 19 years were admitted in 2021, while another 10, 6 percent of young women aged 20 to 24 were attended to by health professionals for terminating their unintended pregnancies.
In Lesotho, backstreet abortion is very common despite the dangers it poses to the health of the women, including infections, damage of the cervix, severe blood loss and a risk of materials being left in the womb.
Such women might be forced to live with medical complications that include infertility with some even losing their lives.
Interestingly, the World Population Report detailing the alarmingly high abortion statistics in Lesotho are coming at a time when there is a highly charged debate in the United States (US) as to whether or not abortion should be legalised in that federal country’s 50 states.
For the past 49 years, since the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v Wade in 1973, women in America have had a legal right to abortion—even if lawmakers in many conservative states have done their best to prevent them from exercising it.
Earlier this month, a leaked draft majority Supreme Court opinion for the overturning of Roe was published, suggesting that the US is moving towards outlawing abortion.
The opinion, published in Politico, a politics website, and written by Samuel Alito, a conservative justice, describes Roe as “egregiously wrong from the start” and says it “must be overruled”.
This has ignited a fierce debate in the US with arguments in favour and against the banning of abortion.
Here in Lesotho, in the wake of the World Population Report, the Lesotho Times took to the streets of Maseru to find out the public’s views on whether or not the government should be considering legalizing abortion, given that the practice happens nonetheless with hazardous consequences for most females.
Below are some of the views of Basotho:
In my view, abortion should be allowed. A lot of women consult village traditional midwives who give them traditional herbs to abort their pregnancies. Usually there is no proper dosage and it puts the lives of such women at risk. They might even die as a result of taking the concoctions. Sometime women don’t plan to get pregnant. Mistakes do happen, that’s why I support the legalisation of abortion.
It is only fair that Lesotho allows abortion because there are various factors that might force a woman to opt for induced abortion. It should be women’s right to abort their pregnancies in a safe environment if they so wish. This will reduce complications and deaths.
Some women fall pregnant as a result of rape and others are dumped by their partners. Raising a child on their affects them financially and emotionally as some have to abandon their dreams at a very young age should they decide to keep the pregnancy. Women deserve the right to choose whether they want to keep their pregnancies, whether wanted or unintended.
Why should women be given the privilege of aborting their pregnancies? When one engages in sexual intercourse they are fully aware that there are chances of them falling pregnant if they do not use contraceptives. They should face the consequences of their actions. I do not support the legalisation of abortion.
I strongly support the idea of allowing safe abortion. Some women become desperate after being impregnated and neglected by their partners, leaving them to carry the burden on their own. I strongly support that they should be allowed to have safe abortion. Sometimes they cannot raise babies on their own if they’re unemployed.
We also have a challenge of our girls who fall pregnant in their teens when they are not mature enough to be mothers.
As a mother, I fully support the legalisation of abortion. We face challenges when our children fall pregnant at a young age and their bodies have not matured enough to carry out the pregnancy to full term. Some are too young to raise children even though they are sexually active.
When they opt for backstreet abortion they risk dying. It is for such reasons that I support abortion.
We are at the mercy of backstreet abortion ‘consultants’ who demand a lot of money from us when we go there for help. They give out pills and verbal instructions but sometimes things go wrong when we use the concoctions at home. We deal with a lot of challenges and end up being emotionally drained. Legalising safe abortion is the way to go.