Nine out of ten South Africans are still of the view that abortion is wrong in spite of the fact that it was legalised 12 years ago, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) said on Wednesday.
According to a public opinion survey conducted by the HSRC, the majority of South Africans were of the view that abortion was wrong even if a family could not afford another child, or if there was a strong chance of a serious defect in the baby.
The survey reported also that although race was not the strongest predictor of attitudes towards abortion, black South Africans were far less likely than Indians, coloured or white people to approve of abortion if there was a strong chance that the baby would be born with a defect.
Curtailing backstreet abortions
According to the survey, abortion was seen by government as a means of curtailing "backstreet" illegal operations.
As a consequence 526 123 abortions took place during the period 1997 to 2005.
The survey said factors that influenced attitudes towards abortion were levels of education, frequency of church attendance, and race.
Education biggest factor
"Educational level is the strongest predictor of attitude under both circumstances. Pro-choice sentiments become more prevalent as levels of education increase.
"So, South Africans with the highest levels of education are least likely to think that abortion is wrong," the survey reported.
In contrast it was noted that frequent attendance at church meetings or services correlated positively with the view that abortion was "wrong".
Conversely, those who attended services infrequently or never were the most likely to think that abortion was "not wrong".
The survey was conducted by Bongiwe Mncwango, senior researcher in the Knowledge Systems unit of the HSRC and Dr Stephen Rule, Director of Outsourced Insight and a former director of Socio-Economic Surveys at the HSRC. – (Sapa)
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