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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 Law Is a Total Failure”

“The Law Is a Total Failure”

Abortion from 1975 to the End of Apartheid

Chapter:
(p.202) Chapter 8 “The Law Is a Total Failure”
Source:
Abortion Under Apartheid
Author(s):

Susanne M. Klausen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199844494.003.0009

This chapter examines the impact of passage of the 1975 Abortion and Sterilization Act . It shows that the law contained so many byzantine limitations and bureaucratic requirements for women and doctors alike that obtaining a legal abortion became almost impossible. The law had a chilling effect on the medical profession: doctors who previously would have been willing to procure abortions were now extremely wary. Even women who clearly met requirements for legal abortions were denied assistance. Only a few hundred women, most white, obtained legal abortions every year. Women with means continued participating in “abortion tourism” by traveling abroad, especially to London, to obtain safe abortions. Meanwhile, the unsafe clandestine abortion industry to which black women and poor and working-class white women turned for help thrived.

Keywords:   1975 Abortion and Sterilization Act, Apartheid, Chilling effect, Medical profession, Abortion tourism, London, Clandestine abortion industry, Black women, Poor white women

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