Dudley's legislative proposal on Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill: rejection

Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions

19 October 2010
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson announced that the Committee had received a special petition from Mr A Munasur, on which in-depth research would be required, as also input from relevant parties. He noted that the comments were still awaited from the relevant Portfolio Committee in respect of the Pretorius legislative proposal. A new legislative proposal to amend the Labour Relations Act was received from Mr Ollis.

The Committee noted that the Dudley proposal to amend the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy legislation was complex, that extensive consultation was done with stakeholders, including the Portfolio Committee on Health, who had all concluded that there was no need for the proposal. It might be possible for her concerns to be addressed by the Department of Health in regulations. The Human Rights Commission confirmed that there was no violation of human rights currently. In light of this, the Committee resolved to reject the proposal.

Minutes of meetings on 15 September 2010 and 13 October 2010 were approved and adopted, with technical amendments. Members noted the date and venue of the strategic planning workshop on 25 November.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson announced that the Committee had received a special petition from Mr A Munasur. This petition would require very in depth research and a second legal opinion, after the memorandum was received from the Office of the Speaker. He reminded Members that only Members of the National Assembly could bring special petitions on behalf of individuals, and both the MP and Mr Munasur would brief the Committee. The petition had to do with a pension, and National Treasury and Government Employees Pension Fund must also be consulted.

He noted that, in respect of the Pretorius legislative proposal, this Committee still awaited a formal response from the portfolio committee to which the matter was referred.

A new legislative proposal had been received from Hon I Ollis (DA) to amend the Labour Relations Act.

The Committee had submitted a legislative proposal to develop a Petitions Act to the Office of the Speaker, which had then asked that the Committee should augment and amend the submission, so a revised draft would be circulated to Members.

Mr P Pretorius (DA) commented that this was why he had asked if the legal advisors were included in the process. He wished to reiterate that the Committee should, whether officially or unofficially, get the Office of the Speaker involved in the drafting of whatever was submitted.

The Chairperson said that had been done.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had no formal system of communicating with the media after requesting amendment of legislation. For instance, the legislative proposal to amend the President’s powers to pardon offenders had received attention by the media, but no statement had been released about the Committee’s eventual decision, and he thought that after making each resolution, the Committee should release a public statement.

was very high on the media debate, the committee had done its work and would submit it’s opinion to Parliament, but there was no system of giving feedback to the public as to how the committee concluded the matter. After each resolution on a proposal the committee would find a way to release a statement to the public to clarify the opinion of Parliament through the committee.

Dudley’s Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill
The Chairperson recapped that the Committee had received several submissions on the Dudley proposal in respect of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy legislation. Submissions were given by the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, the Commission on Gender Equality, the Human Rights Commission, the Department of Women, Children, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, and the Department of Health. The Committee now had had to determine whether to give approval to continue with the proposal.

Mr N Fihla (ANC) commented that in view of the amount of documentation, this Committee should obtain legal advice.

The Chairperson said a legal opinion had been received. The Department of Health had submitted that in fact what Ms Dudley had proposed could well be captured in the regulations. It was important for the Department of Health to ensure that people were properly counselled and advised of the full consequences of the process.

Mr Pretorius supported Mr Fihla’s comments around the complexity of the proposal. He thought that the proposal was perhaps already beyond the Committee’s mandate, and it was a matter that should perhaps have gone to the Portfolio Committee earlier. However, this Committee had listened to stakeholders, who overwhelmingly concluded that there was no need for the amendment, and the Portfolio Committee on Health had also submitted that it was not in support of it, so that even if this Committee were to decide to pass it on, it would no doubt not be passed by the portfolio committee. He proposed that this Committee should accept the recommendations contained in the submissions that there was no necessity for or merit in the proposal, essentially because it was not practical to implement it. The proposal would then not be taken further.

Mr Fihla supported the proposal, and other Members raised no objections.

The Committee thus resolved to reject the legislative proposal. The resolution would be finalised at the next meeting.

Adoption of Minutes
Minutes of Committee meetings held on 15 September 2010 and 13 October 2010 were approved and adopted, with technical amendments.

Revised Fourth Term Committee Programme
Ms P Mocumi (ANC) raised concerns about the strategic planning workshop scheduled for 25 November, noting that there could be an ANC caucus on that day.

The Chairperson said this was regarded as a Committee week, and the House Chairperson had indicated that all Committees could arrange strategic planning or review sessions.

Ms M Mdaka (ANC) was not in favour of a strategic planning workshop held in Parliament.

Ms A Dreyer (DA) and Mr Pretorius stressed that Parliament was the appropriate venue, in order to save money.

The Chairperson said the date and venue had already been approved.

The meeting was adjourned.

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