What you didn’t know about abortion

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Every woman has the right to make decisions about her own body. But when it comes to topics such as abortion people are quick to judge others for their choices without knowing what it’s actually all about. So here is a breakdown of what you didn’t know about abortion.

What is an abortion?

An abortion is the early ending of a pregnancy which happens through taking medication or by having surgery. If you are thinking of having an abortion consult a qualified doctor so that you know what your options are.

Up to when can an abortion be done?

This will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are. Abortions that are performed early in the pregnancy can be done by a gynaecologist or doctor. However, after nine weeks a surgical abortion is normally the only option. This is because the risks of having an abortion after the second trimester, from week 13 to week 27, are higher than in the first.

Can you still have children after an abortion?

Most methods used by doctors don’t prevent women from getting pregnant again at a later stage. However, you can still get pregnant weeks after the abortion – so be sure to use protection.

What about here in South Africa, what are the laws on abortion?

The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act was instituted back in 1996. This act states that women have the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies when it comes to having children. That every woman has the right to chose, “whether to have an early, safe and legal termination of pregnancy according to her individual beliefs.”

Then how come there is still a stigma surrounding abortion in South Africa?

People in South Africa don’t like to talk about abortion. This means there is a lot of ambiguity surrounding the rights, access, and availability of services – especially in rural areas. It doesn’t help that, according to a 2006 study, at least 30% of South African women believed that abortion was still illegal.

This may be why many women often opt for illegal abortions rather than going to hospitals and local clinics. A 2014 study by The South African Medical Journal also suggests that young women go this route because they are scared of being seen at hospitals and clinics for fear of being stigmatised as well as being treated badly by the hospital staff.

When it comes down to it, the choice of whether or not to have an abortion is up to the individual. If a woman decides that this is the right choice then we shouldn’t judge her. So if a friend or family member is going through the procedure, be sure to offer your care and support.