Every South African should know their sexual and reproductive health rights (you can read more about them here), and for women, it’s especially important to know about your right to a safe and legal abortion. Unfortunately, 30% of SA’s women don’t know that they’re legally allowed to terminate a pregnancy, which means that they turn to dangerous and unscrupulous illegal providers.
Here are the FACTS about abortion in South Africa so you can #KnowYourRights:
- Abortion is LEGAL in South Africa up to the 20th week of pregnancy, according to the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (amended 2008). Termination has been legal since November 1996.
- The Choice on Termination Act recognises that the right to decide whether or not to have children is fundamental to a woman’s physical, psychological and social health.
- The Acts states that a woman can have an abortion at any age. At Marie Stopes, we advise young girls to chat to a trusted adult (a parent, aunt or teacher) and ask someone to accompany them to the centre for their appointment, but this is their choice and not required.
- It is EASY to know the difference between a LEGAL abortion provider and an illegal one.
A safe, legal termination is performed by a registered professional nurse or a registered doctor in a ‘designated facility’ such as a clinic. Doctors and nurses need to be registered with the Healthcare Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and must have undergone special training to perform abortions. In order for a facility to be ‘designed’, it must be accredited by the Department of Health to provide safe, legal abortion services.
- You MUST read this checklist so you can identify an illegal abortion provider. Always be safe, rather than sorry, and when in doubt, speak to Marie Stopes.
- There are DANGERS involved in not knowing your rights. If a woman does not know about her right to a safe and legal abortion, she may take dangerous, desperate, illegal actions to terminate a pregnancy. This can lead to serious health complications, including infections that could cause very long absences from work, permanent infertility or, in the worst and most heart-breaking cases, death.
Safe, legal, affordable abortions at Marie Stopes
Marie Stopes clinics across South Africa offer safe, legal and confidential abortions that have been approved by the Department of Health. All our services are carried out in non-judgemental, sterile environments, and with your best health interests at heart. This means you can feel safe and confident in our care, whatever your age or situation.