Dear Mr Dlamini and Mr Nxumalo, (Editors)
I was greatly saddened by the fact that the Times censored my free speech by ignoring my "letters to the editor" emailed on the 12th and 16th October, and incredibly proud and grateful when the Observer published both, back to back, on the 16th and 17th October.
These 2 challenging letters followed by MP Johannes' comments seem to have started an increasing amount of statements in both national newspapers about Abortion, and its legalization in Swaziland, over the last 3 weeks. That's exactly what I'd hoped would happen. I believe that hard topics very much need to be talked about widely, and every person needs to form a clear opinion on such matters.
What concerns me is the blindly ignorant statements being voiced by at least 2 MPs about the facts of abortion, with Min. Hlobi even suggesting we introduce abortion as population control and that we enforce China's 1 child policy! Such talk disgusts me - as if Swazi's are a herd of cattle to cull, breed and control.
I therefore ask that I may be able to write a daily or weekly feature article about pregnancy, abortion, and post-abortion care for women.
These informative articles would be published for the benefit of educating the public in these matters, and would be written in a factual, honest, and thoroughly-researched way.
Please consider this request. Since organisations like FLAS commonly fill up an entire page with SRH and family planning information, I ask that I might be granted the same platform.
This type of open honest debate on taboo topics is the foundation of journalism excellence world-wide. I am asking you for a chance to use my passion and writing skill to make a difference, please allow me to do so.
Monday 12 Nov 2012
Dear Ruth Cory,
Thank you for your interest in writing for us. I have only received one email from you previously, on the 12th of October, and I think one of your comments was also published in the Swazi News on 3rd November.
Although abortion has been in the news lately, I do not think that this is the right time to put a ‘pro-con’ debate at the centre of our society through a regular column, but you are welcome to send me a sample piece of writing (maximum of 600 words please). We would be looking for a column that balanced both sides, concentrating on the medical and social effects of abortion but without the appeals to emotion with which so many people try to sway this argument. It needs to be about local attitudes, using local statistics, rather than the wider pan-cultural debate. I am not sure if one health issue alone can carry an entire column dedicated to it but you are, of course, always welcome to submit letters to the editor on this topic (please note that the word limit should ideally be around 600 for this, too).
Simon Dawson, Opinion Editor
Monday 12Nov 2012
Dear Simon Dawson,
Thank you for your response. I would be happy to submit a sample to yourself.
Surely a regular column as you've suggested would be opinion driven, as most currently published in the Times are (Mkhulu, Single Lily, Editor, etc)? What I was envisioning was more along the lines of a well-researched public education type of article, informing Swazis of the health risks (both physical and medical) of abortions.
I hate to break it to you, but a "pro-con" debate IS at the centre of society right at this moment! I assume from your comments, and the reluctance of the Times to print pro-woman/pro-life articles & facts, that the Times is pro-abortion. This is deeply disappointing, as true journalism should give voice to both sides in an equal manner and quantity, and let the public make up its mind for itself.
The Times has had no problem so far publishing pro-abortion "appeals to emotion with which so many people try to sway this argument" ALL of the public information regarding both pregnancy and abortions (garnered mostly from IPPF, through FLAS) has been decidedly pro-abortion, and NONE has been pro-woman/pro-life. And my request to balance the scales a little has been met by your polite yet patronising refusal. I am not an anti-abortion fanatic. I am most certainly not religious. I am passionate about the protection of women from abortionist organisations who blatantly mislead in the media and bury medical/scientific fact to further their goals.
I just want to publish the facts&figures, the numerous extensive studies, the health risks, the records detailing mental/emotional health of post-abortive women & their families, and the non-gory, ever-true testimonials of women, and also importantly, address the issues of pregnancies and prenatal development, social difficulties facing Swazi women and put forward solutions and alternatives.
Rest assured that my personal pro-woman/pro-life convictions will be tamped down in the interest of providing moderate, medically-sound articles, especially in an effort to balance the information bias currently going-on. I'm not interested in time-wasting religious arguments, but I will call out the truth, whatever it may be.
It is ironic that you mention wanting to use local or relevant statistics because the article "Abortion is here to stay" in the weekend Times was extremely biased and emotionally charged. In fact, I was shocked to realise that the global statistics used by the reporter in this article are actually those recorded for legal abortions in Africa, America and world-wide.
Your reporter falsely reported the facts by pining on the word "unsafe" in front of "abortion" (and implying that unsafe=illegal). He therefore falsely portrayed these legal abortion statistics as true for illegal or unsafe abortions. This is a huge error, which I hope he did unwittingly, and should be pointed out to the public and apologized for. It is outrageous to take legal abortion statistics off the internet, and dress them up to suit an attack or to sway public opinion on legalisation.
I'll forward my first sample to you shortly, and ask that you consider any future work in the light of fair and accurate public education.