Abortion has been legal in South Africa for more than 20 years, yet the black market for backstreet abortions still flourishes.
A recent briefing report by human rights organisation Amnesty International found that less than 7% of the country’s 3 880 health facilities offered termination of pregnancy services.
As part of a February story on abortion, Bhekisisa asked the national health department for a database of public health facilities that offered these services and was told that no such list existed. Instead, it was told that databases of abortion providers were kept at district health offices.
Amnesty International researcher Louise Carmody found that the poor provision of adequate information was one of the main barriers for people seeking safe abortions.
Carmody told Bhekisisa in February: “Many women and girls do not know about the law and the services they are entitled to.
“There is no central place where women can get information about abortions. There isn’t even a list of the facilities around the country where the services are offered on the department’s website. It’s difficult for women to find out where they need to go and what the process entails.”
So Bhekisisa worked with provincial health departments to put together a searchable, interactive map of public or government-sponsored facilities around the country that provide termination of pregnancy services.
Update, 10 March 2017: In February, Bhekisisa received a list of abortion providers from the national health department, but the department admitted that this list was out of date. Bhekisisa then got in touch with each provincial health department to obtain updated lists of providers. These lists are the basis for this map. However, we have received calls from activists arguing that even this information is not up to date and that abortion services at some facilities are not operating.
Bhekisisa is therefore in the process of calling each of the 259 facilities on the map to confirm the status of services. We anticipate this process will be completed by the end of May.
[Update]: Bhekisisa launched an updated version of this map on 17 November 2017.
Bhekisisa has created #SizaMap, South Africa’s first searchable map of free abortion providers. Please note that this map is based on facilities’ self reporting so it’s best to call ahead and confirm services are offered. Spot an error? Let us know here. For more information on how we constructed the map and its limitations, click here.
Reporting by Ina Skosana and Joan Van Dyk. This article originally appeared on Bhekisisa.