One improvement to the abortion situation may be medical abortions. Unlike current procedures, which require several hours in a clinic and a manual "evacuation" of the uterus by trained staff, medical abortion induces termination with a combination of drugs. Women take the first drug at the hospital and the second at home, and they return to the hospital 10 to 14 days later for a checkup. Medical abortions are already an option in the Western and Eastern Cape, and three other provinces are slated to offer that option this year, with help from Ipas. Medical abortion is also a popular choice; in one province, Ipas found that more than 75 percent of women intending to terminate prefer the option.
But South Africa's medical establishment has been wary. "Medical people in South Africa are not very happy about women doing things on their own," says Trueman. "But women are pretty sensible, believe it or not. And they know their bodies."
For more on South Africa's barriers to abortion, read Jina Moore and Estelle Ellis's article, "In South Africa, A Liberal Abortion Law Doesn't Guarantee Access."
Credit: Jake Naughton