This article was written by Marie Stopes South Africa; the largest non-profit provider of sexual and reproductive health services in the country. It was originally published on MTV Shuga.
This year, Mzansi celebrates 20 years since the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed, making access to safe abortion care the right of any girl (up to 20 weeks of pregnancy).
Even though it’s a woman’s legal right to have an abortion in South Africa, we still see roughly 52% of abortions being carried out by illegal providers (‘backstreet abortions’). Why?
Here are the most common reasons:
– Women do not know where else to go
– Women do not know that abortion is legal in South Africa
– Women fear being judged by their communities
– Women have fears about confidentiality and privacy
– Women do not know who is a safe provider and who isn’t
In MTV Shuga: Down South, we see Khensani struggling with teenage pregnancy, and eventually decide to terminate her pregnancy- unfortunately, she ends up in the hands of Mr Mgova who is most definitely not a safe provider of abortion care. How was Khensani to know?
Khensani’s situation shows us the need for young girls and women to be armed with the right information to protect their bodies against illegal abortion providers. Knowing this could have helped Khensani from all of the negative side-effects that can come with an illegal abortion…
How do I know if a provider is safe or not?
A safe abortion provider…
– Offers abortion care in line with the law (up to 20 weeks of pregnancy)
– Operate inside of hospitals, clinics or medical centres
– Can provide their Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) or South African Nursing Council (SANC) registration number
– Performs physical examinations, takes a medical history or provide a test/scan to confirm how far along you are in your pregnancy
– Take steps to prevent infection, such as wearing latex gloves, having running water & clean linen, and having separate bins for medical waste disposal;
– Provide you with a consultation that includes ALL of your pregnancy options, including information about a future contraceptive method
– Arranges follow up appointments and/or contact information in case of questions or concerns
An unsafe abortion provider…
– Sells you medical abortion tablets over the Internet
– Meets you at a street-corner, parking lot or other non-medical place
– Just has a mobile number and cannot provide official contact details
The differences between these two kinds of abortion treatments could not be greater. Getting a pregnancy test early is important too, as this gives you the time to explore all of your options.
Knowing the difference between a safe and unsafe provider is the only way to protect your health when looking to terminate your pregnancy. Make sure you take the right path…
Read more about the dangers of illegal abortions and how to know the difference between legal and illegal providers. You can also contact Marie Stopes online or on 080 011 7785 for more information or to make an appointment.