Friday, January 18, 2008

South African Abortion Bill Votes Counted

Abortion bill votes counted

The controversial Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill was passed by the National Assembly on Thursday by 266 votes to 52, with 12 abstentions.

The African Christian Democratic Party, Freedom Front, Federation of Democrats and Inkatha Freedom Party all voted against the measure, while the Democratic Alliance allowed its members a free vote on the matter.

The so-called abortion bill seeks, among other things, to amend existing legislation to allow certain public and private clinics to perform abortions without first obtaining government approval.

According to an attached memorandum, the bill empowers provincial health MECs to approve facilities at which abortions may be carried out.

'Do not let the blood of more innocent babied be on your hands'

"[Among the bill's objects is to] allow all public and private facilities that have a 24-hour maternity service to terminate pregnancies of up to and including 12 weeks without seeking approval from the Member of the Executive Council concerned."

Speaking during a declaration of vote, the ACDP's Cheryllyn Dudley said her party opposed the bill in the strongest possible terms.

"We call on members of this House to do the same. Do not let the blood of more innocent babied be on your hands," she implored.

Research showed nine out of 10 South Africans believed abortion was "morally wrong", Dudley said.

The DA's Mike Waters said his party has allowed members a free vote on the bill.

The bill 'gave women the right to choose'

The DA had two concerns with the measure, including that counselling for those seeking an abortion should be mandatory, and not non-mandatory as specified in the bill.

Further, doctors, midwives and nurses should have the right to conscientiously object to performing an abortion, and this right should be written into the law.

African National Congress MP James Ngculu told the House the bill gave women the right to choose.

The bill will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

Earlier on Thursday, pro-life groups had urged MPs to reject the measure, saying they should not pass the bill in its current form.

"A major point highlighted in all pro-life submissions included that women must receive adequate counselling in which all the risks (both physical and psychological) are explained in the counselling session prior to the abortion," Taryn Hodgson, spokeswoman of the Christian Action Network said in a statement. - Sapa

Published on the Web by IOL on 2008-01-17 16:46:51

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