Even though getting an abortion in South Africa is legal, there are many reasons why girls and women go to illegal or ‘backdoor’ abortion providers for help. This is a big problem because unsafe and illegal abortions are dangerous.
What are the risks of an illegal abortion?
When abortions are done at a legal healthcare facility and by a trained professional, they are very safe. But when they are done by illegal abortion providers, they can leave you with complications that can affect you forever or even put your life at risk. This is because illegal providers are not trained to deal with any complications that you may experience during the abortion procedure or after getting an abortion.
Common risks when getting an illegal abortion are:
- Losing too much blood.
- Getting an infection.
- Injuries to the reproductive system that can affect whether you can have children in the future.
- An incomplete abortion (when everything is not removed from the womb).
Illegal abortion providers
People who are not professional healthcare providers or properly trained and licensed to perform abortions and who do so anyway are illegal abortion providers. Anyone who performs illegal abortions without being allowed to legally can face a fine or up to 10 years in prison because they are putting the lives of the people they help at great risk.
Note: Some illegal abortion providers and where they work looks real and legit, so some people end up getting abortions there without knowing that the provider is providing an illegal service.
How can you spot an illegal abortion provider?
Here are some ways to see whether a person or ‘facility’ that says they provide abortions is illegal:
- They will only provide a cellphone number (either on posters or in person).
- They will not advertise their physical address.
- They will not tell you about the abortion methods they use or even counsel you on the different methods before the procedure.
- They will usually use the same kind of medical abortion tablets. For a medical abortion you need two different types of tablets taken at different times.
- They will tell you to not come back if you have a problem or complication but go to a government clinic or hospital.
- They will tell you that you can have an abortion at any time in your pregnancy or they won’t even ask how far along you are.
If you have had an experience with an illegal abortion provider or you feel like you don’t have an option but to go to an illegal abortion provider, trained counsellors at loveLife are here to help guide you.
You can report an illegal abortion provider at your nearest police station or through Marie Stopes here.
Do you have questions about what the SA law says about abortion? Click here to find out.
Are you thinking about getting an abortion but you’re not sure where to start? Find out here.
Do you know about the different abortion procedures? Learn about them here.
[Photo courtesy of Delwyn Verasamy]