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Abortion Amendment Act Struck Down by Constitutional Court in South Africa

Contact: Doctors for Life, +27 (32) 4815550, mail@dfl.org.za; Doctors for Life International – USA, USA@Doctorsforlifeinternational.com; Drs. W. Sliedrecht, Doctors for Life International -- Netherlands, Financiële bijdragen: giro :5269490, mail@dortorsforlife.nl


ZIMBALI, South Africa, Aug. 18 /Christian Newswire/ -- In a landmark decision, the Constitutional Court of South Africa upheld Doctors for Life’s application alleging that the National Council of Provinces (akin to the Senate or the Upper House in South African legislature) and the Nine Provinces had failed to provide “a meaningful opportunity” for the public to participate in the Democratic Process of passing the Bills.


Passed in 2004, The Abortion Amendment Act expanded the category of health professionals allowed to perform abortions to include registered nurses. It also allowed for health facilities to automatically qualify to perform abortions if they met a list of requirements. This act was bound to increase pressure on hospital staff, particularly those who have conscientious objections to performing abortions.


The act will still stay in force for the next 18 months, during which time Parliament must pass another Bill to repeal this Act and provide proper opportunity for public comment in each province and in the National Assembly.


This process of public involvement will hopefully also allow Doctors for Life and other Pro-life organisations to expose issues such as the necessity of informed consent for women considering having an abortion.


This is the first time that a Pro-life group in South Africa has succeeded in a case brought before the Courts of South Africa. DFL are particularly gratified that the Court upheld their right to go direct to the Constitutional Court and agreed with their submissions that Parliament had been in breach of the constitutional obligation to facilitate public involvement in the legislative process.


The case will be of great importance to Parliament in respect of all legislation, not merely health bills, because the highest Court in the land has now made it clear beyond any doubt that Parliament must not cut corners but provide sufficient time and opportunity for citizens throughout the country to have their say in respect of all bills passing through Parliament.