A woman’s choice to terminate her pregnancy has been a Constitutional right since 1997. 23 years later, and not many of our citizens know this fact. It can lead too many women to choose “backstreet” providers – those who openly advertise, but are not licensed – to be their only option.
As part of our continued commitment to offering safe and legal abortion services, we want to provide all South African women with the knowledge to help them shun these illegal practitioners, avoiding risk to their health or safety!
Under South African law, safe abortion is a termination of pregnancy that is performed by a registered professional nurse or registered doctor in a ‘designated facility’ such as a clinic. Doctors and nurses need to be registered with the Healthcare Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and have undergone special training to provide safe abortion services, as all Marie Stopes nurses have.
What is a “backstreet” clinic?
Illegal abortion clinics predominantly advertise by stickering the poles around our cities and communities. They may only list a mobile phone number, or a website, with no specific clinic address. This is your first red flag.
Simply having a website or contact number does not mean an individual or company is a safe, legal abortion provider. Anyone who arranges to meet you in the street, operates from an unsafe area or does not have a clinic should be avoided.
Here are the other signs and tells to look out for, and questions to ask:
- They do not perform physical examinations, take a medical history or provide a test/scan to confirm the stage of the pregnancy
- They do not follow basic infection prevention, such as wearing latex gloves, having running water and clean linen and having separate bins for medical waste disposal
- Ask for their Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) registration number, as they are required by law
- They do not explain your options and offer counselling
- They do not offer to follow up appointments and contact information in case of problems or questions
If you are considering a termination of pregnancy, go to a trusted name or brand (like Marie Stopes or Department of Health approved clinic), who has a landline telephone number – not just a cell phone number – a fixed address in clinical surroundings, and registered healthcare professionals.
Choosing to have an abortion is your legal right. Share this article with your friends, so we can ensure more and more women understand their Constitutional rights.