Conflict and care in sexual and reproductive health services for young mothers in urban South Africa

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Culture, Health & Sexuality, Volume 22, Number 4, p.459–473 (2020)



Early motherhood, South Africa, termination of pregnancy, youth-friendly services


In South Africa, sexual and reproductive health services aim to facilitate access to and utilisation of care to young people. We draw on narrative interviews with 45 young mothers and six health care providers delivering sexual and reproductive health services at an urban health centre, to understand how young mothers experienced services in relation to ante- and post-natal care, including termination services. Although health care providers emphasised what they considered young women’s ‘ignorance’ and ‘irresponsibility’ as central to early and unintended pregnancy; they also expressed their sympathy and concern. In a resource-limited health care setting, with health system inefficiencies and lack of specialised training, there was little opportunity to deliver high-quality care to young women. We draw attention to the need to prioritise the training of health care providers to expand early pregnancy testing and termination services and to deliver patient-centred family planning services to young women.


Publisher: Taylor & Francis _eprint: