20 May 2019

South Africa: Strong Parallels Between Alabama Abortion Vote and Reproductive Rights in SA and Kenya

analysis

It's no coincidence that Alabama, the US state that has just voted to ban abortion almost totally, has a statue to the man labelled 'the father of gynaecology' and who learnt his trade experimenting on female slaves. This was one of the lessons learnt by a group of South African girls, who found out on road trips in the US and Kenya that reproductive rights are under attack in both countries, write India Baird and Kelly Petersen.

In October 2018, on a civil rights road trip across the American South with teenage girls from the United States and South Africa, our group, all with the South African NGO BRAVE, came across the statue of Dr Marion Sims.

Tucked in alongside the larger-than-life statues of Confederate soldiers at the Montgomery State Capital, the much smaller statue of Dr Sims hails him as the "Father of Gynaecology" and lists his numerous international awards for the treatment and care of women's reproductive rights.

Behind this façade is a much darker story.

Dr Sims' legacy was cemented by operating on girls and women he bought as slaves. And his legacy of ignoring the rights of women to have agency over their own bodies was...

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