Termination of Pregnancy (TOP)


Women who do not want to go through with a pregnancy can choose to have the pregnancy terminated. Free abortions are available at some state clinics.


Any women (irrespective of age) can get a legal abortion for an unwanted pregnancy according to the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act No. 92 of 1996. Pre- and post-TOP counselling that is not prescriptive should be provided. Parental or partner's consent is not required. Women are advised to go for safe, legal abortions rather than "backstreet" abortions that are likely to endanger their health and their lives. Also see Contraception (Family Planning) for emergency contraception.


To get a free abortion, the request for a TOP must be made at a primary healthcare clinic, where the pregnancy will be confirmed, counselling provided, an appointment made, and a referral letter be given to a facility where the procedure can be performed. Not all health workers are willing to be involved in this service, but they are obligated by law to inform the client of her rights and must refer the client to a health worker or facility where she can get the service.

The service can also be accessed via a General Practitioner (GP) but a consultation fee will be required. Marie Stopes Clinics and private hospitals also provide the service for a fee.

Any girl or women can ask for a TOP in the first three months (12 weeks) of pregnancy. It is important to act quickly if an unwanted pregnancy is suspected.

If you are three to five months (13-20 weeks) pregnant, a different set of rules apply for TOP. The doctor, in this case, will carry out the TOP only if:

  • There is a risk to the physical or mental health of the woman or foetus.
  • Having the baby will cause major social or economic problems for the mother.
  • The woman is pregnant from rape or incest.

The service, however, must still be requested at a primary healthcare clinic.

The following private organisation can also be of assistance:



If you are a first-time visitor to a health facility, you will be asked to fill out a form and a folder will be opened. Bring your ID book, your referral letter (if relevant), any medication you are taking and your clinic/hospital card if you have previously registered at the facility.

You must sign an informed consent form giving permission for the TOP to be done. Health workers who are unwilling to give the service for any reason must refer you to a colleague who is willing to do so or to the appropriate regional facility with a referral letter and a booking.

These Western Cape Health Facilities offer the Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) service.

Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (Western Cape Government)

TOP is free of charge at primary healthcare facilities and when referred up the line. Ambulance services are free of charge for women who have an abortion.

The content on this page was last updated on 13 February 2014