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10 questions answered about phone-in abortions

  • Private abortion clinics introduced phone-in abortion services in South Africa during COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. People wanting to end their pregnancies could do so without having to visit a clinic in person.
  • Between January 2020 and the end of December 2021, Marie Stopes South Africa performed more than 28 000 medical abortions (the procedure done for pregnancies of 12 weeks or less). Of these, 41% were phone-in abortion services.
  • Abortions via the phone, also called self-managed abortions, is one way of making medical abortions accessible to people who live far from abortion facilities. But the government doesn’t yet offer the service, making it unaffordable to many at a cost of  about R2 100 per abortion in the private sector.
  • Mohale Moloi asked Melusi Dhlamini, who headed up the introduction of self-managed abortions by Marie Stopes South Africa in 2020, how such terminations work.

Private clinics started to offer phone-in abortion services when COVID-19 lockdowns began in 2020. Forty one per cent of the medical terminations of pregnancies that Marie Stopes South Africa did since January 2020 were such self-managed terminations. Here is how they work.

Mohale Moloi worked at Bhekisisa as a television producer and health journalist from July 2021 to March 2024.

Yolanda Mdzeke is a multimedia reporter at Bhekisisa.