Abortion Services and Reproductive Justice in Rural South Africa. By Ulandi du Plessis and Catriona Ida Macleod

Book cover

South Africa’s progressive Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (No. 92 of 1996), which permits abortion at the request of a pregnant person in the first trimester, was hailed as transformative in terms of reproductive health and rights. Despite this promise, many challenges persist resulting in a lack of services, especially in rural areas where distances and transport costs are a factor. Accessing abortion services in rural areas under conditions of liberal abortion legislation is neither straightforward nor simple. As the South African example shows, the liberalisation of abortion legislation was the first step in granting pregnant persons access to abortion care. Despite this and some progress in implementation, many challenges persist resulting in a lack of services, especially in areas where distances and transport costs are a factor. Drawing on the findings of a study conducted in three rural districts of the Eastern Cape, the authors highlight the complexities involved in understanding problematic or unwanted pregnancies and abortion legislation within these communities; the reported barriers to, and facilitators of, access to abortion services among rural populations; and preferences for types of abortion services.
A key finding is the conundrum of costs versus confidentiality: lack of confidentiality involves additional costs to access services outside the area; high costs mean that confidentiality may have to be foregone, which leads to stigma. The authors place the findings within a reparative reproductive justice framework and present a comprehensive set of recommendations. Abortion Services and Reproductive Justice in Rural South Africa is an insightful and informative resource – the first of its kind –for scholars in health and sociology, health anthropology, health psychology, health sociology and social work, reproductive health policy makers, national planners, health facility managers and providers, and activists.

Review of Abortion Services and Reproductive Justice in Rural South Africa in The Lancet: 


Reproductive Justice: From the margins to the centre. Edited by Morison, T., & Mavuso, J. M. J.

             Sexual and Reproductive Justice

Sexual and Reproductive Justice: From the Margins to the Centre offers new insights and perspectives on sexual and reproductive justice. The thought-provoking and diverse contributions in this volume — which range from indigenous approaches to sexual violence to gender-affirming primary and mental healthcare — extend sexual and reproductive justice scholarship, and spark critical questions, novel thinking, and ongoing dialogue in this field.


Queer Kinship: South African Perspectives on the Sexual Politics of Family-making and Belonging edited by Tracy Morison, Ingrid Lynch and Vasu Reddy


What makes kinship queer? This collection from leading and emerging thinkers in gender and sexualities interrogates the politics of belonging, shining a light on the outcasts, rebels, and pioneers. Queer Kinship brings together an array of thought-provoking perspectives on what it means to love and be loved, to ‘do family’ and to belong in the South African context. The collection includes a number of different topic areas, disciplinary approaches, and theoretical lenses on familial relations, reproduction, and citizenship. The text amplifies the voices of those who are bending, breaking, and remaking the rules of being and belonging. Photo-essays and artworks offer moving glimpses into the new life worlds being created in and among the ‘normal’ and the mundane. Taken as a whole, this text offers a critical and intersectional perspective that addresses some important gaps in the scholarship on kinship and families. Queer Kinship makes an innovative contribution to international studies in kinship, gender, and sexualities. It will be a valuable resource to scholars, students, and activists working in these areas.

Morison, T., Lynch, I., & Reddy, V. (2019). Queer kinship: South African perspectives on the sexual politics of family making and belonging. Routledge/UNISA Press Series.


A Genealogy of Puberty Science: Monsters, Abnormals, and Everyone Else by Pedro Pinto and Catriona Ida Macleod

A Genealogy of Puberty Science explores the modern invention of puberty as a scientific object. Drawing on Foucault’s genealogical analytic, Pinto and Macleod trace the birth of puberty science in the early 1800s and follow its expansion and shifting discursive frameworks over the course of two centuries.

Offering a critical inquiry into the epistemological and political roots of our present pubertal complex, this book breaks the almost complete silence concerning puberty in critical theories and research about childhood and adolescence. Most strikingly, the book highlights the failure ​of ongoing medical debates on early puberty to address young people’s sexual and reproductive embodiment and citizenships.

A Genealogy of Puberty Science will be of great interest to academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of child and adolescent ​health research, critical psychology, developmental psychology, health psychology, ​feminist and gender studies, ​medical history, science and technology studies, and sexualities and reproduction studies.

Pinto, P. & Macleod, C.I. (2019). A Genealogy of Puberty Science: Monsters, Abnormals, and Everyone Else. New York: Routledge.


The Palgrave Handbook of Ethics in Critical Research edited by Catriona Ida Macleod, Jacqui Marx, Phindezwa Mnyaka and Gareth Treharne

This handbook highlights the growing tensions surrounding the current dominant ethical clearance model which is increasingly being questioned, particularly in critical research. It draws on stories from the field in critical research conducted in a range of contexts and countries and on an array of topics. The authors involved in this collection encountered dilemmas, contradictions and surprises that brought about a change in their understanding of ethics. Throughout the book they discuss how ethics is an ongoing and situated struggle that requires researchers, at times, to traverse traditional ethical imperatives. Four sections lead readers through the complexities of grounded ethical practice: encountering systems, including Ethics Committees and institutions; blurring boundaries within research; the politics of voice, anonymity and confidentiality; and power relations in researching ‘down’, ‘up’, and ‘alongside’. This handbook is a resource for social science researchers using critical methodologies across a range of disciplines, as well as for students and teachers of ethics, in navigating the quandaries of ‘doing good’ while doing good research. 

Macleod, C.I., Marx, J., Mnyaka, P., Treharne, G.J. (Eds.) (2018). The Palgrave Handbook of Ethics in Critical Research. Palgrave Macmillan.


Men's Pathways to Parenthood: Silences and Heterosexual Gender Norms by Tracy Morrison and Catriona Ida Macleod

How does the decision to become a parent unfold for heterosexual men? Is becoming a father a 'decision' at all or a series of events? These questions are the starting point for this critical book, in which the authors unravel the social and interpersonal processes shaped by deeply entrenched socio-cultural norms that come to bear on parenthood decision-making in the South African context. Drawing on the narratives of white, Afrikaans women and men, Men's Pathways to Parenthood uses an innovative discursive method to illuminate the roles masculinity, whiteness, class, and heteronormativity play in these accounts. Men's Pathways to Parenthood addresses an under-researched topic in gender studies namely, men and reproductive decision-making and will be an important resource for scholars in gender studies, sexualities, and reproductive health, as well as those interested in innovative approaches to discursive research.

Morison, T. & Macleod, C.I. (2015). Men's pathways to parenthood: Silences and heterosexual gender norms. Pretoria: HSRC Press.


‘Adolescence’, Pregnancy and Abortion: Constructing a Threat of Degeneration by Catriona Ida Macleod

Why, despite evidence to the contrary, does the narrative of the negative consequences of teenage pregnancy, abortion and childbearing persist? This book argues that the negativity surrounding early reproduction is underpinned by a particular understanding of adolescence. It traces the invention of "adolescence" and the imaginary wall that the notion constructs between young people and adults. Macleod examines the entrenched status of "adolescence" within a colonialist discourse that equates development of the individual with the development of civilisation, and the consequent threat of degeneration that "adolescence" implies.

Many important issues are explored, such as the invention of teenage pregnancy and abortion as a social problem; issues of race, culture and tradition in relation to teenage pregnancy; and health service provider practices, specifically in relation to managing risk. In the final chapter, an argument is made for a shift from the signifier "teenage pregnancy" to "unwanted pregnancy".

Using data gathered from studies worldwide, this book highlights central issues in the global debate concerning teenage pregnancy. It is ideal for academics, and students of health psychology, women’s studies, nursing and sociology, as well as practitioners in the fields of youth and social work, medicine and counselling.

This book received the 2011 Distinguished Publication Award from the Association of Women in Psychology, based in the United States of America. It is the first time such an award has been made to a South African author since its inception 35 years before. This book also received the Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor’s book award for 2012 (only one such award is made annually to a scholarly book that advances original knowledge; competition is extremely high.)

Macleod, C.I. (2011).  ‘Adolescence’, pregnancy and abortion: Constructing a threat of degeneration. London: Routledge.

Last Modified: Mon, 10 Jun 2024 09:28:31 SAST