ATC101020: Report on Ms C Dudley Legislative Proposal to amend the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, No 91 of 1996
Report of the Committee on Private Members’ Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions on the legislative proposal to amend the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, No 91 of 1996 (Honourable C Dudley, African Christian Democratic Party), dated 20 October 2010:
The Committee on Private Members’ Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions, having considered the legislative proposal to amend the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, No 91 of 1996, and having listened to the presentation by Honourable C Dudley and consulted with the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, the South African Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality and the Department of Health recommends that permission not be granted to the member to proceed with the proposed legislation.
The committee wishes to make the following observations with regards to its recommendation:
1. The legislative proposal was stated to be aimed at ensuring that women are able to make fully informed decisions regarding the choice to terminate a pregnancy. The emphasis was placed on state support for women to realise this legislative aim. The sponsor submitted that the legislative proposal was aimed at the amendment of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, “so as to ensure a woman or child is able to make a fully informed choice regarding the termination of pregnancy”.
2. The proposed amendments can be appropriately dealt with in the guidelines and directives for health care practitioners responsible for performing the terminations of pregnancies. An amendment of the Choice on Termination on Pregnancy Act cannot be justified, as the proposal addressed mere procedural issues already broadly provided for in the Regulations to the Choice on Termination on Pregnancy Act, as published GN R168 in GG17746 of 31 January 1997.
3. A woman’s right to choice must be the primary concern in any legislative amendment. This consideration is not adequately reflected in the legislative proposal, specifically as it relates to the proposed viewing of electronic images, diagrams and photographs of the foetus. This is also reflected in the fact that the term “unborn child” is used in the legislative proposal and this is inconsistent with the use of the term “foetus” in the principal Act. Although counselling has positive informative value, it remains the discretion of the individual whether she wishes to see visual images of the foetus.
4. The implementation of the proposed amendments would hamper access to the proper facilities (in rural areas primarily). Ultimately, this would compromise the proper exercise of a woman’s right to choice, as reflected in section 12(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 that states that “[e]veryone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right to make decisions concerning reproduction”.
5. The proposed amendment of the Choice on Termination on Pregnancy Act would be costly, due to the related financial and human resource implications. The proposed amendments would also have a great financial impact on facilities that are primarily dependent on donor funds.
In light of the above, the committee is of the view that the legislative proposal of Honourable C Dudley is not feasible and should not be proceeded with.
Report to be considered.
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