Abortion in South Africa

Abortion is legal in South Africa upon request within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Both Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) abortion and medical abortions (MA) are available at public and private facilities.

Is Abortion Legal in South Africa?

All women in South Africa are allowed to terminate their pregnancy upon request within the first 12 weeks of gestation. Abortions performed beyond this time timeframe have to fall under one of the special circumstances listed below:

  • Continuing the pregnancy may be a risk to the woman’s physical or mental health;
  • The fetus may suffer from severe physical or mental abnormalities should the pregnancy continue to full term;
  • The pregnancy is a result of rape or incest; and/or
  • Continuing the pregnancy may have severe economic or social impact on the woman.

What Types of Abortion are Available in South Africa?

  • Abortion with pills
  • Manual Vacuum Aspiration(MVA)
  • Dilation and Curettage (D&C)*

*D&C is an outdated abortion method and should be replaced by MVA when possible. [3]

What is the abortion rate in South Africa? How Many Women Have Abortions?

34 per 1000 women have abortions in South Africa

In-Clinic Abortion

What are the Different Types of In-Clinic Abortion Procedures Availble in South Africa?

  • Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) – less than 12 weeks
  • Dilation and Curettage (D&C)*

* D&C is an outdated aboriton method and should be replaced by MVA when possible. [3]

Is Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) safe?

MVA is a very safe method of abortion for pregnancies in the first trimester, and/or early second trimester all the way up to 14 weeks of gestation. MVA is 99% effective. [4]

You can get more information on the MVA procedure here.

Where Can I get a Manual Vacum Aspiration (MVA) Abortion in South Africa?

  • Private Hospitals
  • Community Clinic
  • District Hospitals
  • Provincial Hospitals
  • Private Practices of registered health professional
  • Specialised private Sexual and Reproductive Health facilities

How Much Does Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) Cost in South Africa?

Manual Vacuum Aspiration costs vary between ZAR 1,500 – ZAR 2,300

Are There Any Side Effects of Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA)?

The most common side effect is cramping during the procedure. Often this cramping will improve quickly afterward, but some women may experience cramping on and off for a few days or weeks. Most women will experience bleeding and cramping during and after MVA, these symptoms will gradually improve in the following days after the procedure. [4]

Abortion with Pills (Medical Abortion)

Are the Abortion Pills (Mifepristone and Misoprostol) Available in South Africa?

Both Mifepristone and Misoprostol are available in South Africa [5].

How Late Into a Pregnancy Can the Abortion Pills Be Used?

The abortion pills can be used within the first 11 weeks of pregnancy.

You can get more information on the medical abortion protocol using Mifepristone and Misoprostol or using Misoprostol only.

Do I Need a Prescription for Mifepristone? Misoprostol?

A prescription is required to obtain Mifepristone and Misoprostol in South Africa.

What Brands of Abortion Pill Are Popular in South Africa?

The most popular brands in South Africa are Cytotec, Mifegyne and Mifeprix [5].

How Much Do the Abortion Pills Cost in South Africa?

They cost between ZAR1,600 – ZAR2,100

Who Can I Contact for More Information on Abortion in South Africa?

Safer Sex: Tel: 011 787 1222 / 886 2286

UCare Medical Centres: Tel: 010 600 2670

Marie Stopes: Toll free: 0800 11 77 85

Mosaic: Tel: 021 761 7585

You can get in touch with safe2choose’s counselors by email at info@safe2choose.org or by livechat.

You can also reach out to Women on Web or Women Help Women.

Authors:

by the safe2choose team and supporting experts at carafem, based on the 2019 recommendations by Ipas, and the 2012 recommendations by the WHO.

safe2choose is an online counseling and informational plateform that supports women who want a safe abortion, and when needed, refers them to trusted, trained and pro-choice healthcare providers.

carafem provides convenient and professional abortion care and family planning so people can control the number and spacing of their children.

Ipas is the only international organization solely focused on expanding access to safe abortion and contraceptive care.

WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.


Sources

[1] Center for Reproductive Rights. The World’s Abortion Laws. Retrieved from: https://reproductiverights.org/worldabortionlaws

[2] Marie Stopes. What you need to know about Safe abortions in South Africa. Retrieved from: https://mariestopes.org.za/safe-abortions/

[3] WHO. Safe abortion: technical and policy guidance for health systems. Second edition. Retrieved from: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/70914/9789241548434_eng.pd%20f?sequence=1

[4] Ipas. Clinical Updates in Reproductive Health. 2019. Retrieved from: https://ipas.azureedge.net/files/CURHE19-april-ClinicalUpdatesInReproductiveHealth.pdf

[5] IPPF. Medical Abortion Commodities Database. Retrieved from: https://www.medab.org/advanced-search-multiple-results?country=334&commodity=all&brand=all#multiple-search-result

Last updated on 29/09/2020

We are staying available to support you with your abortion during COVID-19.

We are closely monitoring the situation of coronavirus globally and will keep updating our information and services.

We advise our readers to:

  1. Read our latest blog post on abortion and COVID-19
  2. Follow WHO safety guidelines on COVID-19
  3. Contact our counselors