Barriers to Safe and Legal Abortion in South Africa

Only about 260 of the country’s 3,880 health facilities provide abortions, according to recent research by Amnesty International. In a briefing report released in February they said the health department has an obligation to guarantee women access to abortion services, but is not doing enough to implement the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act.

The research, at some public clinics, found many barriers to abortion. Only five public health facilities in the Northern Cape offer abortion services, and a similar number in the Free State. In KwaZulu-Natal, women can go to 27 health facilities across the province, but districts such as Umzinyathi, Zululand and Umkhanyakude have either one or no public facilities providing services, according to a Health Department list.

Lack of information was one of the chief obstacles found. Many women and girls do not know about the law and the services they are entitled to, and there is no central place where women can get information about abortions. There isn’t even a list of the facilities around the country where the services are offered on the Health Department’s website. It’s difficult for women to find out where they need to go and what is entailed.

SOURCE: Bekhisisa Centre for Health Journalism, by Ina Skosana, 14 February 2017 ; VISUAL