Abortion pills are in high demand in South Africa, a recent report by Statistics South Africa entitled Unwanted Fertility in South Africa reveals that about 20% of all births in the five years preceding the 2016 Demographic and Health Survey (including pregnancies at the time), happened when women were not planning on having any more children.
Abortion in South Africa is legal on request in the first trimester of pregnancy, and in special circumstances afterwards. Abortion involves premature expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception of the embryo or of a nonviable foetus. Medically-induced abortions, can be completed with surgery or with hormone drugs, they are performed because the foetus is unwanted, deformed, not likely to live, or endangers the mother’s life or health.
South African law guarantees access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and death from unsafe abortion has declined by more than 90% since the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed in 1996.
What abortion pills are available in South Africa?
In South Africa, medical abortion mostly requires the use of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. Although, a significant minority also use misoprostol-alone for pregnancy termination. Mifepristone blocks the activity of progesterone (a hormone needed to maintain a pregnancy) in the uterus and softens the cervix so the pregnancy comes out more easily. Misoprostol makes the uterus contract and push out the pregnancy. This is similar to what happens when a person has a miscarriage.
When both medications are available, mifepristone is taken first, and then misoprostol is taken 1–2 days later. Mifepristone is always swallowed. Misoprostol is put in the mouth to dissolve, either in between the cheek and gum or under the tongue. Note: You don’t need to take misoprostol vaginally, and no one ever needs to insert it for you.
What do abortion pills look like?
Both mifepristone and misoprostol are sold in tablet or pill form. Misoprostol pills usually, but not always, have a unique six-sided shape. Mifepristone is usually a round, white pill. If someone is selling these medications in capsule form, they are not legitimate. (A capsule is a shell or container, usually made of gelatin, that contains a medication.)
What does mifepristone combined with misoprostol look like?
Where mifepristone is available, it is usually sold packaged together with misoprostol as a “combi-pack.” Combi-packs are rarely counterfeit and should look something like this.
What is a “blister pack” and why is it important?
A “blister pack” is a way of packaging medicines where individual pills are sealed in a “bubble” between two layers of material. The most common materials used for blister packs are cardboard, plastic and aluminum.
Misoprostol becomes less effective when the pills are exposed to heat and moisture. For that reason, misoprostol must be sealed in double-aluminum blister packs (aluminum on top and bottom), rather than cardboard or plastic. You are unlikely to find legitimate or effective misoprostol that is being kept in cardboard, plastic or as loose pills in a bottle.
A double-aluminum blister pack should look something like this. Be sure the aluminum is not opened on any side until you are ready to use the pills.
How Much Are Abortion Pills In South Africa Pharmacies?
Government regulations do not allow South African pharmacies including Clicks pharmacy, Dischem to sell abortion pills. You can get misoprostol at Dischem but for other ailments and not abortion. So there is no publicly known price for misoprostol at South African pharmacies because it is an abortion pill.
Nevertheless, the cost of misoprostol varies around the world but generally not very expensive. Manufacturers sell the pills to pharmacies for very little cost — less than $0.05 USD (5 cents) per pill. The highest sales price found in a recent study was $2 USD per pill.
Misoprostol is usually an affordable option for someone seeking an abortion. Of course, some pharmacists or medicine sellers may take advantage of people seeking misoprostol and try to charge too much for the pills. You can ask people you trust if they know how much the pills should cost where you live, or you can search the internet for local cost information. But remember: Misoprostol should not be expensive.
Pre-packaged combi-packs of mifepristone and misoprostol are less likely to be sold without a prescription, the prices are likely controlled, and a combi-pack should cost less than $20 USD.
How many pills do I need to buy?
If you have access to both mifepristone and misoprostol, you will need 1 mifepristone pill of 200mg and at least 4 misoprostol pills of 200mcg each. If you are 10–12 weeks pregnant, you may need to take 1 or 2 extra doses (4 or 8 extra pills) of misoprostol to finish the abortion process. If you have access to misoprostol only, you will need at least 12 misoprostol pills of 200mcg each if you are less than 13 weeks pregnant. You can also find useful information on: How Long Does It Take For Birth Control Pills To Work?