Exploring South African adolescents’ knowledge of abortion legislation and attitudes to abortion: Sexual status and gender differences
This study explored adolescents’ knowledge of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (No 92 of 1996) and attitudes toward abortion. A sample of 150 secondary school learners (aged 15 - 19 years), from a low socioeconomic area in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa was surveyed. Twenty percent of the sample indicated that they found abortion acceptable. The sexually active (have had sex) respondents had more positive attitudes toward abortion for elective reasons than the sexually inactive (have not had sex) sample. On traumatic reasons the gender difference was found to be a function of sexual status. Sexually active females showed greater support than males. While the majority of those sampled were aware of the legal status of abortion in this country, they demonstrated a lack of knowledge on specific aspects of the Act. Recognition of adolescents’ right to information is central to responsible decision-making among the youth about sexual and reproductive health issues.