Many, however, go unreported as they happen illegally. There is a very real stigma that has been placed on women who have abortions – this is also sometimes the reason why many women hide that they have had abortions or choose to do illegal abortions.

According to a report launched by the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission in Johannesburg, 25 million South African women have had illegal or backstreet abortions – with less than one in ten health care facilities offering safe termination of pregnancies.

Although abortions in South Africa are legal there is a long-standing stigma that comes with it and it shouldn’t be so.

We reached out to women on our social media pages and asked them to share their abortion experiences.

On our Twitter page we ran a poll asking women how many of them have had abortions. Out of 111, 24% said that they have had abortions while 76% said they hadn’t.


Other women went on to share their personal stories about when they decided to have an abortion. These are their stories.

Faith*

I had an abortion when I was 15 years old and doing grade 9 in 2007. I was dating this handsome boy I had a crush on for a long time and I was so young I didn't know much about sex, except for what I had heard from my friends.

One weekend he invited me over his place and we sex without a condom, weeks after that I missed my period for that month and when I told my friends, they immediately knew I was pregnant. I tried to terminate the pregnancy myself by drinking a concoction of boiling Coke, Stameta along with other detergents but nothing happened. I was staying with my older sister at the time. She was very disappointed in me when she realised I was trying to terminate my pregnancy because she was barren.

After this my sister told my mom but my mother decided to take me to the hospital for an abortion. It was so painful and I lost a lot of blood but then I didn't care.

When I was 17 I fell pregnant again and even though my mom wanted me to abort again, I refused and today my son is nine years old.  

I am now married with two other kids and a born-again Christian. Now and then I do think about my aborted child and how she would have been. I believe it would have been a girl and she would have been 12 years old now and I regret it. I wouldn’t advise anyone to have an abortion.

READ MORE: "I perform abortions for a living – and I love my job"

Thobeka*

In 2016 on this month I aborted and honestly – I know it might sound evil – I really don't regret it because I didn't love the guy I was dating. I just liked him and I didn't see a future between us even though he wanted the baby. I just couldn't.

I also knew that he and his parents loved me but he was childish to the point where when I told him I was pregnant he didn't believe me and I’m not sure if he didn't believe that he could impregnate a woman because he was 38 and childless.

When I asked the guy for money to terminate the pregnancy he didn't give it to me. Even after I terminated and told him, he still didn't believe me until we broke up – until this day I'm sure he thinks I lied.

I went to the nearest public hospital, got myself an abortion and honestly the staff there was anything but judgmental. They didn't ask me 101 questions, instead they told me about the after effects I might face.

The doctor who performed the termination was an old man in his mid-fifties. He did a good job and gave out the best medication. The experience was painful especially the cleaning of the womb part. I wouldn't wish that upon anyone but for me it was worth it. I don't regret it, I don't count the years of the child or reminisce about what could have been or could have not.

I’ve never been pregnant again and I probably will never have a child in the future. The guy and I broke up soon after and to this day we still don't talk.

READ MORE: Babies are getting dumped in SA at an alarming rate - why safe abortions are more important now than ever before

*Lungile

I've had two abortions while in high school. They were both safe done by medical doctors and I’m grateful.

READ MORE: "I don't regret my abortion and it's not your place to make me feel like I should"

*Nicole

I had an abortion at the age of 20 and my boyfriend was 23 years old. When we found out that I was pregnant we were both shocked because both of us we were not emotionally and financially ready for a baby. We discussed it and decided to abort.

I was not ready at all to have a child. I still needed to grow and become mature because at that time I was not mature enough to take care of another human being.

We are still together today and we have discussions about having a baby now because we’re both grown, feel mature enough and are ready for that responsibility. We are taking it easy as the experience was not easy to go through. To think about it all the time or ask questions about how it would have been, will not help me because what is done is done.

READ MORE: Pete Davidson joked about swapping Ariana Grande's birth control pills with Tic Tacs

*Cebelihle

I have had an abortion three times now and I am not proud of at all. My first pregnancy was as a result of rape and the second was because the guy said he was not ready and the third time was last year in March.

READ MORE: "It’s saving lives" – nurses who perform abortions share their story

*Malifu

I had an abortion in 2015. I was still a student and my boyfriend wasn't working. He was struggling to make ends meet. No one was going to take care of my baby and my dad was going to chase me away from home. So I was left with no choice but to do it. I fell pregnant again this year and had a miscarriage.

READ MORE: Young SA women twice as likely to pray than to be pro-choice

*Angela

I’ve had an abortion more than once.

The first time I felt very bad to the point of depression and I was hospitalised. The second time I was raped and the third I was impregnated by a pastor who said that we couldn’t keep the baby. 

READ MORE: Teenage rape victim sentenced to 30 years in prison after stillbirth

*Tracy

I’ve had an abortion. I was roughly six weeks pregnant. I went to a private doctor and he gave me a few days to go think about it after my first consultation and when I went back there, my mind was still made up.

I was then given medication and was instructed on how to take it. The medical team was in touch throughout the whole process and would call me every morning to check up on me and to check if I’m not bleeding heavily. They made a somewhat difficult experience bearable.

I have not dealt with my emotions, the stigma around abortion doesn't allow us to express our feelings after the procedure. But I have made peace with it and I am not as guilt stricken as I was before. I was not ready then, but I’ve learnt to insist on using a condom.

READ MORE: "I didn't know that I was raped until other women started sharing their stories"

*Adeline

I had two abortions, one was at home and one was via a backstreet. The first time I was eight weeks pregnant and my cousin suggested that I drink a mixture of methylated spirits, Stameta and vinegar, I was 18 years old and I was sure I didn't want a child and the mixture worked.

The amount of pain I had to endure was like death but two days later it happened. I recently had the second one, I bought pills from a guy and I bled out, I was a couple of weeks pregnant and I didn't even need the hospital.

READ MORE: Safe sex and condom use viewed as 'unsexy' by GenZ - survey finds

*Thembi

I already have two children and two months ago I had an abortion. I'm a single parent and I was not ready to have a third child. It was the worst  pain I have ever felt in my life and the guilt I have to live with every day as well as the pain which I feel keeps playing over in my head every day.

Do you have a personal story you would like to share with us? Simply send us an email at Mystory@Drum.co.za

READ MORE: Forgiving yourself after an abortion

 Names have been changed to protect the identities of the women.