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Xhosa peri-urban women's views on abortion as a human right : implications for a pro-impilo theological discourse on the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act no. 92 of 1996, South Africa.

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The conceptualization of this study is conceived out of the new abortion Act No.92 of 1996. Under this new Act a woman can procure abortion on demand within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The thrust of this thesis is based on the hypothesis that a woman's decision to seek abortion is a highly individual decision which neither the church nor one's culture can succeed imposing any control measures against. This essentially means that moral-ethical considerations engendered by one's religio-cultural orientation are in fact inconsequential for individual decision making and implementation. The secondary hypothesis is that while the above may be true, it does not necessarily exonerate the individual from her religio-cultural conditioning and thus creating a dissonance between the woman and her significant others. These may be one's family, church or any close associations . It is in this respect that the study examines three trajectories which, it is claimed, are constitutive of the Africa in contemporary communities. These are: the African traditional culture, the Christian heritage and the culture of human rights as practised within a democratic society. The study looks at the ramifications of what happens when these three perspectives interact, with a particular focus on abortion under the new abortion Act. A recovery of certain elements of African resources is argued for which, it is suggested, can hold in creative tension and healthy balance women's desire to exercise their reproductive rights while not compromising both their religious leanings and cultural roots. In this regard concepts of ubuntu, impilo, ubomi-mpilo and African spirituality are carefully examined and delineated with the eventual purpose of finding accommodative framework within the three trajectories numerated above. This thesis is by no means exhaustive . It is an exploratory study intended to open up a serious discuss!on, specifically on issues of human sexuality on which both the African culture and the Christian faith have been silent. But that silence, as the thesis goes on to show, has not been without its casualties, especially for African women. It is this dangerous silence which the study challenges and seeks to break.


Thesis (M.Th.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 1998.


Abortion--Religious aspects--Christianity., Abortion--Law and legislation--South Africa., Abortion--Moral and ethical aspects., Theses--Theology.