Issued by: Department of Health
28 January 1997
From 01 February 1997 a new law allowing pregnant women to make a choice on terminating a pregnancy will be in place. The new law replaces the previous one which required doctors only to recommend the termination of pregnancy. Women who are forced to terminate their pregnancies may approach any health sector / facility (public or private), and request for help.
Each province has identified hospitals for providing this service. A list of those hospitals will be published before 1 February. There are private hospitals that will also render services of termination of pregnancy. Other facilities, including health centres, will be identified to access services to both rural and urban communities.
Who can request for the ending of her pregnancy?
Only the pregnant woman who belong to the below categories can ask for the termination of her pregnancy;
Can a woman younger than 18 years request termination on her own?
Yes, even a woman less than 18 years can request for the termination of her pregnancy. She will, however, be advised to discuss the matter with her parents, guardian, family members or friends before terminating her pregnancy.
If she decides not to discuss it with them, her request for termination of her pregnancy will still be honoured.
Must a married women obtain permission from her husband to request termination of pregnancy?
The woman will be encouraged to discuss the matter with her partner before any decision is made. However, this law does not require the consent of the male partner.
The consent of the male partner, parent or legal guardian is only required when the pregnant woman is severely mentally affected, or is unconscious for a long time.
How does this Act affect health workers?
Health workers should respect the clients, and be sensitive to their needs.
Health workers are not obliged to take an active part in the termination of a pregnancy. However, in the case of an emergency, health workers must participate in order to save the patient or to prevent further problems.
Nurses who have received special training are also allowed to terminate pregnancies, as long as the pregnancy is not more than 12 weeks.
The law requires Health Workers to treat the matter confidentially.
What about counselling?
Every woman is entitled to counselling before and after termination of her pregnancy. Counselling will help her to decide what best decision to make, and how to cope after termination of pregnancy.
Where does a woman go for counselling?
Various organisations and groups offer counselling.
Health Workers will always be available to give advice concerning contrddie Mhlanga, Dept. Of Health, Maternal & Child Health Tel no.: (012) 312 0190 Fax: (012) 312 0213