East London woman scarred for life after horror abortion at illegal clinic
“I will never conceive again after my abortion,” a young East London woman opened up to RNEWS about desperation that drove her to seek abortion at one of the city's illegal clinics. There, things went horribly wrong and irreparable damage was done to her womb.
While abortion is legal in South Africa for a variety of cases under the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (Act 92 of 1996), thousands of desperate young girls and women still try their luck with unregistered doctors in backstreet clinics where they are promised cheap, safe, quick and pain free procedures.
But those, who live to tell the tale following these illegal abortions, tell of a different experience.
One of these survivors is 23-year-old Andiswa (not her real name) from East London, who told RNEWS about her regret after visiting an illegal abortion clinic - she will never be able to bear children.
Andiswa said that she fell pregnant when she was 20, while doing her first year at a the East London campus of one university.
“I found out I was pregnant when I was already four months - I had missed my periods and decided to do a home pregnancy test,” she described.
For Andiswa, as with many girls that often resort to these desperate measures, what was perhaps supposed to be a happy moment became a nightmare as her boyfriend denied the pregnancy.
“I contacted my boyfriend, who impregnated me, immediately after the test because I was so scared.
"I thought he was going to be there for me instead he was so cold and denied the pregnancy,” she said.
“After being neglected by my boyfriend things just got worse because I come from a Christian family with both my mother and father being Pastors.
"So, for me falling pregnant was a disgrace to the family, I had to make sure my parents never found out."
She added that she couldn't even share news of the pregnancy with her siblings as they are also born again Christians and she was afraid they would go and tell her parents.
“My pregnancy was already far and I had to make a decision because it was going to start showing soon. I felt like I had no choice but to terminate the pregnancy,” Andiswa said.
Although she could have gone to a local hospital, she said that she was already far with the pregnancy, which meant that there was nothing anyone could do except for her to carry it to full term. She also felt if she had to abort at a hospital, word would always reach her parents.
“I was desperate so I contacted Dr Azuzu, from the posters I saw in Oxford Street in East London, and we arranged the date,” Andiswa described with regret.
“When I got there, I was so nervous and the doctor gave me two shots of Whiskey just to calm me down.
"Then I was instructed to lay down so that she could check my blood pressure and how far I was with my pregnancy."
She said that she will never forget how the "clinic" was dirty and unsanitary - "it was not really a clinic set up".
“I looked around and the place was not hygienic. It was a mess - even the instruments they used to do the termination of pregnancy, one could tell they had just been used before,” Andiswa said.
While many of these illegal doctors claim to offer quick and pain free abortions, Andiswa told a different story.
“I was given a pill to drink and was told to wait a few hours.
"I started to feel cramps in my stomach - it was so painful until I started bleeding,” she described.
The doctor later performed a gruesome abortion and immediately sent her home after the procedure.
“As soon as she was done, I went straight home - to bed.
"I cried the whole day - it was painful and my spirit was broken,” Andiswa said.
“I contacted my boyfriend because he had also suggested that I do the abortion, but he was as cold as ever and never seemed to care.”
She said that she couldn't sleep for days after the abortion.
“I thought after the termination, I was going to feel relieved instead I was hurting and emotional; I was angry at my boyfriend, but I was angrier with myself.”
However, it was not long after the abortion that Andiswa started experiencing an irregular menstrual cycle.
“After a while, I started missing my periods or they would last for almost four full weeks. I also began to have serious pains in the abdomen.
"That was when I decided to go to the local clinic and they referred me to the hospital,” she said.
Andiswa said that it was at the hospital that they picked up that there were pieces of the foetus in her womb, which were left during the abortion. That is why she was having pains and disturbances with her menstrual cycle.
That was not all, the doctors also told her that her womb had been so badly damaged during the procedure and she will not be able to conceive again.
“When I was told I will never conceive again, I couldn’t help but cry.
"It is another secret that I have to carry because I still have not been able to talk to my family about what happened,” said Andiswa.
“Sometimes I think it is a punishment from God for what I did - killing my child. The most painful feeling of all is that I think, because I will never be able to bear children, I've lost my womanhood.
“I do think of my baby because he was already kicking inside me. I spend every night wishing to turn back the clock."
It has been four years since her ordeal, but Andiswa said the whole experience still haunts her.
“Even today, I still feel hurt every time I see the posters or pass by that building - everything just come back. What pains me the most is that I can't really talk to anyone close to me about it because it's a secret that I have to keep,” she said.
However, Andiswa is determined to transform her life and make sure some good comes out of her experience.
“I feel like I owe my baby so much that I promised myself I’ll work hard and accomplish all my goals in life,” she said.
RNEWS walked around streets of East London to find out what young people think of backstreet abortions. Most agreed that these doctors are selling dreams to desperate young girls and it is better to have an abortion - if it's the only option, done in a registered clinic or hospital.
“I think these so called professional abortion Doctors are just easy making money schemes. There are always complications after these abortions if not death. Government must do something,” said Ziyanda Myataza.
Andile Sogaga echoed her and said that, there should be workshops educating young girls about safe abortions because these backstreet clinics are just making money in their expense.
“These doctors are fake, if they were really professionals then why do they are not operate in hospitals. They are just targeting vulnerable and desperate young girls for money,” said Sogaga.
He concluded that if government doesn't do anything about these doctors death related to abortions will always be on the rise in South Africa.
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