“Abortion, for many women,[..] ,is an act of mercy, and an act of self-defense.” — Alice Walker
‘Fetus deletus’ is legal in South Africa, yay! Many people* are not aware of this, in fact, a case study reported that 32% of sexually active women across 26 Western Cape public health facilities did not know that they could access free, legal abortion. Those who knew it was legal were not well-informed about the procedure. Thus it is important to constantly pour out informed information for people seeking it.
There are many reasons why people consider and seek for an abortion, such as no birth control failure, or genetic abnormalities of the fetus. The reason behind why a person might want to get an abortion is not important, nor is it up for debate. The real chat is that we should be able to access abortions when we want to, “my body, my choice”. So what are some of the facts?
- Termination of pregnancy, also known as induced miscarriage or abortion, has been legal in South Africa from 1996. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act 92 of 1996 states that “every woman must have the right to choose whether or not to have an early termination of pregnancy according to her own belief”
- A “safe” abortion means one that it is performed by a person who is skilled (Medical practitioner or midwife) in a hospital facility with adequate equipment. The opposite is a backstreet abortion.
- A person of any age, INCLUDING A MINOR, can consent to an abortion on their own. The healthcare worker can only ADVISE that the minor consult a guardian or someone, but they should be willing to perform the procedure if the pregnant minor chooses not to. This is important to know, especially so that you can speak up for yourself in the hospital facilities without feeling intimidated.
- Any pregnancy of less than 12 weeks can be aborted on request, and you don’t even need to have a reason! Pregnancies from 13–20 weeks can be terminated under certain conditions, such as: continued pregnancy would be detrimental to physical and mental health of the patient, pregnancy as a product of rape or incest, fetus at risk, or that the woman would be economically or socially affected by having a child. From 20 weeks, special considerations are taken.
This is an important factor to remember that apart from the risks on carrier or child, if you feel that you cannot cope with continuing with the pregnancy, you have the choice to terminate it. It takes a lot to be a parent thus it is important to ensure that you are physically, mentally and economically ready for the adjustment. If not, reconsider — you have the choice!
4. You can get an abortion for free in any public health facility where they offer it. You can information on the names of the places here, or in any facility near you. Alternatively, you may also get it at a price in private facilities such as Marie Stopes.
5. A SAFE abortion does NOT your chances of falling pregnant in future . This means that if done in the safe environment, you can still have children if you want them.
6. NEVER get a backstreet abortion. Do you remember those pamphlets you find pasted on bus stops and lamp posts promising that Dr Lovemore can help you for as little as R200? Those are traps you should not fall for. You could die from excessive bleeding, infections and an incomplete abortion.
7. At less than 12 weeks, you could be given a pill and complete the abortion by yourself at home! Not everyone has to be admitted, as the products of conception are very similar to menstruation (just has variable pain, which a pain-killer can solve!)
From someone who is passionate about Sexual Reproductive Health, please don’t be guilt-tripped into not getting an abortion should you feel that you need it. Just get all the facts in check, and you’re likely not going to regret it!
More stories of people who thanked themselves post abortion:
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“I have had an abortion and I support this message. I am not ashamed, nor should you be.” — Rose McGowan
*people: meant to refer to all people who have uteruses, including non-binary and trans people.