Introduction:Abortion, methods depending on preference and circumstance.The legality

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Last updated: August 30, 2019

Introduction:Abortion, also known as termination of pregnancy or induced miscarriage is the deliberate medical or surgical process of ending a pregnancy before the fetus has come to term, and can be done by a variety of methods depending on preference and circumstance.The legality of abortion varies per geographic region due to an ongoing heated debate surrounding the morality of abortion. Partially because of this, a variety of alternatives to abortion, such as adoption are made available to women and girls considering the procedure. South African teenage pregnancies are on the increase and while many are aborted, many are also carried to term depending on the family’s stance on the morality of abortion debate. Family stances can vary greatly among families and also within a family.

Because of the delicacy of the issue, many local organisations, both government and NGO, exist to provide objective advice and support to potential abortion patients. Many schools have also support systems in place, but their effectiveness varies per school.Definition:Abortion, also known as termination of pregnancy or induced miscarriage is the deliberate medical or surgical process of ending a pregnancy before the foetus has come to term, and can be done by a variety of methods depending on preference and circumstance. The two most common methods are medical and surgical abortion:Medical abortion involves the administration of drugs to inhibit the production of progesterone (a hormone which is essential in order for a pregnancy to continue) and dilate the cervix and cause the uterus to expel its contents. Surgical abortion involves a small tube being inserted into the uterus under local or anesthetic (depending on preference and circumstance) and suctioning out its contents and lining.

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Legalisation of Abortion:Legislatively, South African women enjoy a variety of provisions under the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996. The act stipulates the conditions under which an abortion may be performed, regulates who may perform it and where it may be performed, encourages counselling for abortion patients, mandates informed consent and governs record keeping of such procedures.A woman is entitled under the act to an abortion upon request during the first twelve weeks of the gestation (pregnancy from conception to birth) period. A women is also entitled to an abortion until the 20th week of gestation if she is found to be medically at risk from continuing the pregnancy, if there is found to be a high probability of the fetus suffering a substantial abnormality, or if the pregnancy is found to be a result of rape or incest. Finally an abortion may be performed after the 20th week of gestation if it is found by two or more registered medical practitioners that continuing the pregnancy would endanger the woman’s life or result in a severe malformation of or injury to the fetus. A surgical abortion may only legally be performed at a facility designated by the Minister of Health as appropriate to perform the procedure.

Penalties such as prison time exist for abortions performed by unqualified practitioners or under conditions in contravention of the act. The act also promotes optional counselling for abortion patients, mandates the informed consent of the woman before the procedure can go forward, and mandates record keeping to be done in a way protective of and respectful to the patient.Alternatives to abortion:SA Stats on teenage pregnancy and abortion:The available national statistics are not as accurate or complete as one would like them to be. In many cases, only basic information such as the age of the mother, gestational age of the fetus and geographic areas.

This is due to less thorough record-keeping before the implementation of the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act in 1996, reluctance of many women to share arguably sensitive information, and the many off-the-record illegal abortions that take place in South Africa every year.

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