Abortion attitudes among South Africans: findings from the 2013 social attitudes survey
Mosley, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Jane King, Amy Jo Schultz, Lisa H. Harris, Nicole De Wet, and Barbara A. Anderson. 2017. "Abortion attitudes among South Africans: findings from the 2013 social attitudes survey." Culture, Health and Sexuality, 19(8): 918-933.
Abortion is legal in South Africa, but over half of abortions remain unsafe there. Evidence suggests women who are (Black) African, of lower socioeconomic status, living with HIV, or residents of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, or Limpopo provinces are disproportionately vulnerable to morbidity or mortality from unsafe abortion. Negative attitudes toward abortion have been documented in purposively sampled studies, yet it remains unclear what attitudes exist nationally or whether they differ across sociodemographic groups, with implications for inequities in service accessibility and health. In the current study, we analysed nationally representative data from 2013 to estimate the prevalence of negative abortion attitudes in South Africa and to identify racial, socioeconomic and geographic differences. More respondents felt abortion was 'always wrong' in the case of family poverty (75.4%) as compared to foetal anomaly (55%), and over half of respondents felt abortion was 'always wrong' in both cases (52.5%). Using binary logistic regression models, we found significantly higher odds of negative abortion attitudes among non-Xhosa African and Coloured respondents (compared to Xhosa respondents), those with primary education or less, and residents of Gauteng and Limpopo (compared to Western Cape). We contextualise and discuss these findings using a human rights-based approach to health.