How to Get a Safe Abortion in South Africa

This is your legal right.

Safe abortion is legal in South Africa, so how do you get one? Did you know over 10 000 illegal, risky (sometimes fatal) abortions are performed in South Africa every year? Don’t fall into this number. Here are some options to help you find the safest route, from where to go to which procedure to consider.

Related: South Africa’s Abortion Crisis

Where to Go?

This is the big question. There are many flyers on the street advertising back-alley abortion services (these cannot be trusted). There are also 360 public hospitals in South Africa, but less than 50% of them provide safe abortions. While stigma remains a problem in certain clinics, places like Marie Stopes and Nalane 4 Reproductive Justice are a few trusted places to turn to for services and information. Marie Stopes has many centres throughout the country. So depending on where you find yourself, there may a centre near you:

Illegal backstreet abortions are often ineffective and can be fatal. According to the Gutthmaker Foundation: “An estimated 52% of South African women get their abortion service from the illegal market”. Please prioritise your safety.

What Are Your Options?

There are two safe abortion options, based on your stage of pregnancy, offered by Marie Stopes SA:

  • The Abortion Pill (Medication Abortion)

This may be a good option for you if you are between 5 weeks and 9 weeks pregnant. After 9 weeks, you’ll need a surgical in-clinic abortion. This method works using two pills. Mifepristone (commonly known as the abortion pill) will be taken first. Then another pill, called misoprostol, needs to be taken 6-48 hours afterward. It will cause cramping and bleeding as it empties your uterus.

  • A Minor Same-Day Surgical Procedure (Procedure Abortion)

Surgical abortion is recommended if you’re in your first trimester (when you’re up to 14 weeks pregnant) as it is safer during this period. It can, however, also be suitable if you’re in your second trimester (when you’re up to 20 weeks pregnant) although this surgery is more complicated. Marie Stopes offers safe abortions for unwanted pregnancies for up to 20 weeks

Book an Appointment

You can contact Marie Stopes at this number: 0800 11 77 85, or book an appointment at your nearest centre here online by filling out your details (which will be kept confidential).

Having access to safe, legal abortions will help women take control of their sexual and reproductive health. Marie Stopes South Africa and Blue Ribbon are running the #MyBodyMyChoice campaign to empower women with accurate information and resources on safe abortions. Let’s move towards a South Africa where all women can proudly say “I am in control of my body!”.

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