Bill to be tabled to amend Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act

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The African Christian Democratic Party’s (ACDP’s) Cheryllyn Dudley intends tabling a Bill in Parliament proposing amendments to the 1996 Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act – among other things with the aim of clarifying the circumstances in which a pregnancy may be terminated after the 20th week of gestation.

This, notes Pam Saxby for Legalbrief Policy Watch, is according to the explanatory summary of a private member’s Bill expected to be posted soon on the party’s website. The proposed new piece of legislation also seeks to ensure that pregnant women have access to ultrasound equipment and examinations at all facilities offering pregnancy termination services – along with appropriate counselling, which would be mandatory to facilitate the process of arriving at an informed choice and informed consent. Where a pregnant woman is severely mentally disabled or in a prolonged coma, it is mooted that the natural/legal guardian, spouse or curator personae would have access to pre-termination consent counselling.

Information to be made available during the counselling process would include: the state of foetal development at the time, with supporting electronic pictures, diagrams and photographs; the termination procedure itself; risks associated with either terminating or continuing the pregnancy concerned; available alternatives; accessing relevant social grants and safe-housing; and contraceptive measures where relevant. The Bill was apparently drafted in the context of a 2006 Constitutional Court judgment repealing the 2004 Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act because of inadequate public participation.

The explanatory summary tends to point to shortcomings in the 2008 Amendment Act that eventually replaced it. Interested and affected parties have 30 days to comment.

Legalbrief Policy Watch report

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