Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude

Traumatised Health Care Professionals
Forced to Take Part in Abortion Procedures

Dennilton, Groblersdal, Mpumalanga, South Africa, 2002

News Release
29 June 2002

Doctors for Life, South Africa

The incident at Philadelphia Hospital again highlights the unbearable pressure exerted on healthcare professionals to take part in the Termination of Pregnancy Act against their conscience. The following quotes were collected from traumatized Health Care Professionals whom Doctors For Life contacted:

Healthcare worker 1: "I never really understood what a TOP was, and didn't really think to find out, I didn't ask the patient why she was crying before she went in, I just held her hand and told her it would be okay. When the procedure was nearing the end, I looked into the vacuum bottle to see what I could see. A hand with an arm attached to it, a tiny leg, with a kneecap, and a head without the mouth. This little tot must have been about 16 - 18 weeks. Then the realisation hit me, this is why she was crying."

"On one occasion the nursing sister thrust open the door of the sluice room and demanded that I stay away. Being a woman, it's never easy to say; 'I must stay away' we are all as inquisitive as cats. I peered into the sluice room and saw a tiny baby girl. She must have been about 23 - 25 weeks old. My heart lurched into my throat, to see this little girl gasping for air, and her little arms were grasping at air."

"My response was to wrap her up and take her home and try and make her live. I didn't, and she wouldn't have made it. She tried to cry, and little grunting noises were falling on deaf ears. I too turned my back on her, and went to sit in the linen room until she passed away."

Healthcare worker 2: " I don't know who to talk to, I don't want to have part in abortion because of my convictions, but am being pressurised by the government to work in the woman's ward. They give abortion tablets and we have to complete the mess. I am too afraid to speak over the radio for fear that my voice may be recognised and because I need to consider my income."

Healthcare worker 3: "I work at the T.O.P. clinic but I do not want to work here yet I am being pressurised to do so. Somebody needs to stop this. They can't do this"

Healthcare worker 4: "They are very subtle, I stood up against abortion, and afterwards there were the following repercussions: I did not get any promotion; everything I said they shot down. The district nominated me to attend a seminar, but the director said I could not go because I am against abortion. I don't think I will speak over the radio. Everything to do with abortion gives me a mental block."

Healthcare worker 5: "Of cause it is a traumatic experience to be part of an abortion procedure. Once I was called to take an aborted baby to the sluice. It traumatised me for a long time"

Doctors For Life International (DFL) represents 750 doctors, specialists and professors of medicine from different medical faculties across South Africa.

Doctors For Life will assist and give legal advice in cases where nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers are being pressurised to have part in abortion procedures against their conscience.

Enquiries: Dr Jay Mannie (Dep. CEO)

Mobile phone: +27(0)83 6414 382
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