Characteristics of women having first trimester termination of pregnancy in a district/regional hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.
Introduction: Despite the availability of contraceptives, some women still seek an induced abortion. If these women are known, they can be targeted for intensive contraceptive counseling. An accessible termination of pregnancy health facility can also be provided to those who still wish to have an abortion. Aim: To determine the characteristics of women having first trimester induced termination of pregnancy in Newcastle Provincial Hospital in Amajuba district. Methods: Quantitative retrospective chart review. Seven hundred and fifty eight women had an induced first trimester abortion between 1st January and 31st December 2008 at Newcastle Provincial Hospital. The medical records of 254 were systematically sampled and the data obtained from these medical records were analyzed descriptively. Results: Most women (75%) were aged between 20 and 34 years. The commonest age was 23 years while the mean age was 25.27 years. Two percent were less than 16 years of age. Ninety seven percent of the sample were of African race, 75.6% reported having at least one child alive, 93.3% were single, 70.1% of the women reside in Newcastle sub-district while 19.7% reside outside Amajuba district. Eighty nine percent of the women were not using any contraception before the pregnancy that was terminated. Four (1.6%) women had previously had a termination of pregnancy. Fifty eight percent of the women requested abortion between 9 and 12 weeks of gestation (commonest gestational age was 8 weeks). Seventy four percent of the women were self-referred. Ninety six percent of the women reported having an abortion because of socio-econornic reasons. Only 69.7% disclosed their intention to procure abortion to a second person. Every woman was counseled before her pregnancy was terminated. Conclusions: In our patient population, women who are more likely to have an induced first trimester abortion are: in their twenties; African; single; parous; sexually active and not using any contraceptive; residing in Newcastle sub-district and of poor socioeconomic status. These groups of women should be targeted for intensive contraceptive counseling. The proportion of women who are less than 16 years of age shows that statutory rape is still a challenge in South Africa and deserves more attention. Further study is needed to establish if the location of Newcastle Provincial Hospital is denying women living in other sub-districts in Amajuba (apart from Newcastle sub-district) the opportunity to procure an induced abortion. Such a study will thus guide the place where future termination of pregnancy services may be established in Amajuba.