Termination of Pregnancy

TOP/Abortion IS NOT a form of contraception. If you have an unwanted pregnancy, having the foetus removed by means of an abortion is one of the options that you have. Abortion has been legal in South Africa since 1994, and according to the law you are entitled to have a free abortion at a government hospital or clinic during the first three months of pregnancy. A spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, occurs when the fetus stops growing and the body expels it. An induced abortion occurs when a woman chooses to end a pregnancy. There are 2 ways that an induced abortion can happen: medical and surgical.

Medication Abortion – Uses pills/tablets to terminate a pregnancy.

Early surgical abortion (4-12 weeks) – This involves a suction method, which the nurse will use to remove the pregnancy from the uterus.

Surgical abortion (12- 20 weeks) – A surgical procedure where the pregnancy is removed vaginally, it is performed by a doctor.

The Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act (1996) clearly states the circumstances under which a pregnancy may be legally terminated:

Up to 12 weeks – Upon request

From 13 to 20 weeks – If the continued pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s physical or mental health; if there is a substantial risk that the fetus would suffer from a severe physical or mental abnormality; if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest; if the continued pregnancy would significantly affect the woman’s social or economic circumstances.

After 20 weeks – In consultation with a second medical practitioner, if the continued pregnancy endangers the woman’s life; would result in a severe malformation of the fetus; or would pose a risk of injury to the fetus. 

Abortion services 

Marie Stopes South Africa –a member of the national partnership NTPP, offers safe abortions at their centres and have nurses and doctors who are accredited professionals and experts in reproductive healthcare; Their work is strictly governed by the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act. For information on their services visit their website www.mariestopes.org.za

Useful links

Marie Stopes

Disa Health Care Clinic

Ibis Reproductive Health

Useful documents