An application to the Pretoria Supreme Court, to declare the Freedom of Choice to Terminate Pregnancy Law unconstitutional, fails.

Anti-Abortion CampaignAnti-Abortion Campaign

Date: 10 July, 1998

An application to the Pretoria Supreme Court, to declare the Freedom of Choice to Terminate Pregnancy Law unconstitutional, fails.

In 1998 South Africa's liberal abortion law was challenged in court by three Christian groups; the United Christian Action Group, the Christian Lawyers' Association, and Christians for Truth, who asked the Pretoria High Court to set aside the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, arguing that a fetus has a right to life. The court action was opposed by the minister of health, Dr Nkosazana Zuma, together with the Reproductive Rights Alliance and the Commission on Gender Equality, a statutory body created by the constitution. The three groups' application against the law failed on the 10 July 1998.

The anti-abortion groups were responding to an act passed on 11 December 1996. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, gave women of any age or marital status access to abortion services upon request during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and in certain cases, access to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. This act replaced a 1975 law that severely curtailed access to abortion services by requiring a physician's, and in some cases a magistrate's, approval for abortion procedures. The law's passage was a crucial advance for women, as it represented the recognition of reproductive rights by South Africa's first democratically elected parliament.

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