As we celebrate 21 years of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (CTOPA), access to safe, second-trimester abortions remains a challenge for many South African women.
What makes our CTOPA stand out among other global laws on abortion is its truly progressive nature. The act enables women who choose to terminate their pregnancies to do so legally and safely.
According to the law, they have a right to safe abortion care up to the 12th week of pregnancy, and services can be provided by a registered midwife or a medical doctor with appropriate training.
For the second trimester, which is from the 13th week, up to and including the 20th week of pregnancy, the woman’s request can only be attended to by a medical doctor, who makes an opinion based on conditions.
The conditions include substantial risk that the foetus may suffer abnormality and risk of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health, which takes into account rape, incest and any substantial impact on her socio-economic status. Given the high rate of rape in South Africa, the importance of the provision of this law cannot be understated.