Barriers to safe abortion in South Africa

SAAF grantee partner Abortion Support South Africa has identified barriers for those seeking safe abortion services, particularly in rural parts of South Africa. Despite legal protections for abortion care, many pharmacists are refusing to stock or provide abortion medication.

Victoria Satchwell was desperate when she called the fifth pharmacist asking them to dispense abortion pills for an almost 10-week pregnant client. The woman is a 19-year-old rape victim living in Vredefort, a small farming town in the Free State. Over two days, Satchwell’s team spoke to four pharmacists and they all refused to dispense. Some cited moral reasons, while others simply said they don’t stock misoprostol.

Victoria Satchwell, Director of Abortion Support South Africa in Health E-News

In the last few months, Abortion Support South Africa has contacted 184 pharmacies asking them to dispense Misoprostol. Even when shown a prescription for the medication, around 40% of pharmacists refused to provide it.

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