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Abortion Under ApartheidNationalism, Sexuality, and Women's Reproductive Rights in South Africa$
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Susanne M. Klausen

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199844494

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199844494.001.0001

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“The Actual Matter Is with Us Whites”

“The Actual Matter Is with Us Whites”

Abortion and the “Black Peril”

(p.176) Chapter 7 “The Actual Matter Is with Us Whites”
Abortion Under Apartheid

Susanne M. Klausen

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains why the National Party knowingly allowed the social epidemic of unsafe abortion in black communities to continue unabated. The reasons discussed include: racist perceptions of black women as inherently “promiscuous”; unwillingness to pay for medical abortions for black subjects; a desire to offload medical care for “surplus” black women on to newly created Bantustans; fear of antagonizing African nationalists who were also patriarchal and played “the numbers game”; and whites’ fear of the “black peril”—that is, being numerically swamped by the black population. Afrikaner nationalists presumably approved of the clandestine abortion industry flourishing in urban centers because it complemented the government’s official Population Control policy. Clandestine abortion was helping to curb black “overpopulation.” Ultimately, black women were terminating pregnancies on a large scale at little financial cost to the state, and at no cost at all to the regime’s delusional self-image as Africa’s standardbearer of Christian morality.

Keywords:   National Party, Epidemic of clandestine abortion, Racism, Promiscuous black women, Afrikaner nationalism, African nationalism, Numbers game, Bantustans, Black peril, Overpopulation

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