|dc.description.abstract||Abortion remains one of the most controversial sexual health topics and yet is a
common experience for women around the world. Making sure that women are practicing
safe abortions is integral to women’s sexual and reproductive health as well as their
sexual rights. South Africa has one of the most progressive and liberal abortion laws in
the world, yet women still face major barriers in accessing these services.
Introducing medical abortion as another termination of pregnancy option could
potentially save women’s lives, while reducing the number of unsafe abortions in South
Africa. Medical abortion also contributes to fulfilling women’s sexual and reproductive
rights, providing more choices to best suit their needs. In 2001, the South African
Medicines Control Council (MCC) approved the use of mifepristone in conjunction with
misoprostol for termination of pregnancy. Currently there is no formal national policy
that allows for the provision of medical abortion in public health facilities, and the
Department of Health is considering introducing it into the public sector.
In order for any public health intervention to be successful it must be acceptable
to potential clients and the context in which it is being implemented must be assessed.
This study first looks at women’s attitudes toward abortion; following Eaton’s model of
sexual behavior it examines the personal, proximal, and distal environments that
influence reproductive decision-making, specifically regarding abortion. With this
background information, the study then aims to assess women’s knowledge of medical
abortion and whether or not they find it to be an acceptable method for the South African
public health system and South African women.
The findings suggest that there is a demand for medical abortion among this
sample of women. The majority of women find medical abortion to be an acceptable
method, and would choose it if they were ever faced with having to terminate a
pregnancy. The overwhelming majority of women felt that medical abortion should be
introduced into the public sector and efforts should be made to ensure that this method is
affordable, accessible, and available for women in South Africa in order to expand their
sexual and reproductive health rights.||en