Precious Nkomo*, who lives with her family just outside Mbombela in Mpumalanga, opted for the illegal abortion as she did not want anyone to find out about her pregnancy.
Her sister Elizabeth* heard rumours that Precious was pregnant and confronted her about it. Precious denied it.
“I did not want to tell my sister because I already had plans to get rid of the pregnancy before my family started suspecting it. One of my friends took me to a foreign doctor that she usually used. The doctor asked me how far I was, and I told him that I was 12 weeks pregnant. He charged me R1 500 – R200 for the consultation and R1300 for the pills. Because I was desperate I used my savings to pay him. He gave me six pills – two to take while I was there, and the other four to be taken within 24 hours,” Precious explained.
The doctor asked me how far I was, and I told him that I was 12 weeks pregnant. He charged me R1 500 – R200 for the consultation and R1300 for the pills.
“He said I should expect strong pains and bleeding for a week, and that the fetus will come out. He even insisted that I shouldn’t panic because the whole process will be painful, even though he didn’t give me pain killers.”
Precious swallowed the pills and soon started bleeding. When she started having cramps she felt relief, believing that the abortion was happening. But the symptoms did not stop and she started experiencing headaches and losing strength.
Elizabeth grew worried about the young girl who appeared to have been menstruating for four weeks solidly and often complained of very bad cramps
“I started panicking because by then I knew something was wrong. I had no choice but to tell my sister and I was rushed to our family doctor,” Precious said. She said her parents were devastated when they heard she had terminated a pregnancy.
The doctor treated her and explained to her that a proper abortion required a surgical procedure and that she should never “trust those fake doctors”.
Lives at risk
Nurse Sphiwe Nkosi said teenage girls who opted for illegal abortions were putting their lives at risk.
“Why pay for something that is free and available at some of our public facilities. The truth must be told. Back street abortions are dangerous, and for sure there is a big risk of complications afterwards because the people who perform them do it for money and do not care about lives,” she said.
Precious said she was fully aware of the services offered for free at government hospitals but said she had already had one legal abortion and had been instructed to use condoms if she planned to continue having sex. She was therefore reluctant to go back again.
* Not their real names.