Abortion in South Africa

Posted by: Kim Windvogel 3 weeks, 6 days ago

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If you are afraid that you may be sitting with an unwanted pregnancy and in need of an abortion...

Do not worry, you have come to the right place. 

This can be a scary time, you may feel alone, you may feel like you do not know where to turn or who you can trust.
All of these feelings are valid, remember to take a breath and to think strategically as to how you are going to do this, because after all, abortion is very much legal in South Africa and you will get the assistance you need. 

Abortion in South Africa has been legal since 1997. This means that all pregnant people have the right to a free abortion at a public health facility in South Africa up until 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

* Firstly, wait at least 10 days after the unprotected sex took place in order to take a pregnancy test to confirm that you indeed are pregnant. You can do this at home or go to your nearest clinic to be examined.

* If you are pregnant and are in need of an abortion, contact your closest public health facility to find out whether they have medical practictioners who offer this service. You can do this by going to the clinic and having them examine you there to ensure that you are pregnant, or you can call them. If you are able to go in to the clinic: do that.

* If they offer the service (which they should), make an appointment for the abortion to be performed. 

* If they do not offer the service, ask them to give you a referral letter that will refer your case to another facility closeby. 

* Remember that abortions at public facilities are free of charge

* If you want to have an abortion at a private clinic, remember there are many different places you can go to, especially for those located close to cities:

Marie Stopes is a great option, contact them on their TOLL-FREE number here for more information: 0800 11 77 85

* Remember that abortions at private or semi-private facilities are not free of charge.

Timeline for abortions:

- Within the first 12 weeks (3 months) of pregnancy there are no conditions to accessing an abortion.

*Abortion needs to be performed by a doctor, a nurse or a registered midwife.

* abortions are usually done by providing the pregnant person with abortion pills / up until 10 weeks, although some clinics may administer pills up until 13 weeks.

* This type of abortion is called a medical abortion. 

- 13 weeks and 20 weeks

-  abortion can only be performed under the following circumstances:

* Rape or incest

* Danger to your mental and/or physical health

* The fetus is not viable

* If the pregnancy will significantly affect the pregnanct person's economic and /or social circumstances.

- This abortion needs to be performed by a doctor and is a same-day procedure called a surgical abortion.

- A surgical abortion

* They may use a machine to remove the contents of the uterus through a thin tube. This is called the Vacuum Aspiration. It can either be a hand-held machine or an electric machine.

* Dilation and Evacuation is a procedure used after 15 weeks. This is usually used if there was an incomplete abortion or at the very late stage of pregnancy. 

- After 20 weeks

* Abortion is only available in limited circumstances

* If the pregnancy is a danger to your life or the health of the fetus

* Performed by a doctor

After you abortion :

* You may experience light bleeding for a few days or weeks

* Take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after to make sure the abortion was successful

* Do not put anything into your vagina 5 days after the abortion, this includes no penetrative sex and no tampons, menstrual cups

* Use protection when you have penile penetrative sex again.

Information supplied by Sexual & Reproductive Justice Coalition, Legal Resource Centre, Women's Legal Centre, Women Help Women, FemmeProjects.

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