Characteristics of patients seeking termination of pregnancy at a private provider in South Africa

E T Munatswa



Background. There is a great need for safe and supportive facilities that provide termination of pregnancy services in South Africa (SA), owing to the passing of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act. Since the Act’s implementation, most research and statistical publications and analyses have focused on abortion in the public health sector, with minimal information pertaining to abortion in the private health setting. Private facilities are essential to abortion provision. It is also vital to understand the characteristics of termination-of-pregnancy (TOP)-seeking patients, so that a more concise and effective strategy may be developed to prevent unintended pregnancies. Understanding the patients’ socioeconomic position, demographics, contraceptive use, pregnancy outcomes, etc. allows departments of health at national and provincial levels to make more informed choices about TOP strategies.

Objective. To understand the characteristics of TOP-seeking patients at a private clinic in Sandton, Johannesburg, SA. Method. The study was conducted between June 2016 and July 2017 at DISA Clinic in Sandton, in Johannesburg, SA. DISA Clinic has been a reproductive health service provider for the past 30 years. DISA keeps various written records about TOP-seeking patients, procedures and outcomes, in the form of a register. A convenience sampling strategy made use of the register, which contained the non-identifiable data of 241 women who came to the clinic for TOP during the study period. All 241 women were included in this study, and all had opted for TOP.

Results. The provision of continued care services for TOP-seeking women in private clinics has enabled service users to access the service. Many of the women in this study are employed, but they remain without easy access to TOP services as their income is insufficient to cover medical aid enrolment, and ultimately they resorted to using cash, which they do not readily have. 

Conclusion. Age and income for women who access abortion facilities in this private clinic seem to be consistent with findings in the public sector, leading to the conclusion that women of all ages and financial backgrounds require TOP services. 

Author's affiliations

E T Munatswa, Discipline of Psychology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Southern African Journal of Public Health (incorporating Strengthening Health Systems) 2019;3(2):34. DOI:10.7196/SHS.2019.v3i2.82

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-03-15
Date published: 2019-03-15

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