How late can you get an Abortion?

The issue of how late a woman can get an abortion depends on law of the country and in this case South Africa:



The law that allowed termination of pregnancy in South Africa has a preamble that says:

“Recognising that the Constitution protects the right of persons to make decisions concerning reproduction and to security in and control over their bodies;”

What this means is that the constitution itself allows women to control what goes on with your bodies, therefore they can terminate a pregnancy if they like to do so without permission from any person.

But the same law is not absolute. It gives a limit within which this can happen. It says:

1. A pregnancy may be terminated – ( a ) upon request of a woman during the first 12 weeks of the gestation period of her pregnacy.

This means that between 1 week to 12 weeks you do not need permission from any one to terminate a pregnancy and you do not need any reason. You just choose to end a pregnancy and it will happen.

2. (b) from the 13th up to and including the 20th week of the gestation period if a medical practitioner, after consultation with the pregnant woman,is of the opinion that –

(i) the continued pregnancy would pose a risk of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health; or

(ii) there exists a substantial risk that the fetus would suffer from a severe physical or mental abnormality; or

(iii) the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest; or

(iv) the continued pregnancy would significantly affect the social or economic circumstances of the woman; or

(c) after the 20th week of the gestation period if a medical practitioner, after consultation with another medical practitioner or a registered midwife, is of the opinion that the continued pregnancy –

(i) would endanger the woman’s life;

(ii) would result in a severe malformation of the fetus; or

(iii) would pose a risk of injury to the fetus.

What this means in short is that between 13 weeks to 20th week there must be a compelling reason to terminate a pregnancy. The idea behind this is that after 13 weeks the fetus has formed body parts and therefore you waited this long and you must have a reason to terminate.

So after 13 weeks legally speaking yuo are late and must provide a reason to terminate.

20 weeks upward you can only terminate if your life is danger and in most cases that child can exist outside your womb if looked after.


12 weeks or below you can terminate as what you have in you is called pregnancy tissue. It is just blood and cells that will with time form body parts. At 13 weeks upwards you need reasons to terminate as the fetus starts to form. That is what the South African law says.



061 067 4116


There are various ways to terminate an unwanted pregnancy (abort) the cheapest being termination using an Abortion Pill. You can learn more about the abortion Abortion Procedure and also How Does Abortion WorkAfter an Abortion this is what you have to know and follow so that you can recover very quickly and get back your old body.

Published by Dr Thembi

Dr Thembi MbChB - Mendusa. Am a professionally trained medical doctor with interest in women reproductive health and sexuality. I help women avoid dangerous termination practices by focusing them on what they can do to terminate safely even when they do not want to use public clinics.

Click For Help
%d bloggers like this: