Exploring perceptions of termination of pregnancy among psychology Honours students at a higher education institution in the Western Cape, South Africa
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The South African Choice on Termination of Pregnancy (CTOP) Act (no. 92 of 1996) regulates the process of termination of pregnancy in the country. However, research has shown noncompliance to the stipulation leading to clandestine practices, ostracism and lack of knowledge regarding the Act. The aim of this study was thus to explore perceptions of Psychology Honours students toward termination of pregnancy as well as to investigate their knowledge of the CTOP Act and assess how far the legislature informs their perceptions, if at all. Although CTOP Act legislation stipulates pre and post CTOP counselling, evidence suggests that few women seeking termination of pregnancy (TOP) rarely receive counselling as envisaged. Numerous challenges were indicated as factors affecting the implementation of this stipulation. Considering this evidence, the way that prospective mental health care professionals such as Psychology Honours students’ – perceptions toward TOP were regarded pivotal in engaging with the implementation of the TOP legislature. A qualitative exploratory research design was used to explore and describe the perceptions that Psychology Honours students have toward TOP. Individual interviews with 15 students from a historically disadvantaged university in the Western Cape were conducted and recorded. The collected data was transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s model of Thematic Analysis. The results from the collected data reveal complex perceptions toward TOP. Participants reflected gradual modification of their perspectives due to exposure to different contexts and views in tertiary institutions, different friends and social engagements. Most participants indicated a religious background, however, indicated deviation from religious prescriptions pertaining to TOP.