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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude

South Africa Changes Abortion Law (1996)

Warnings ignored

Sean Murphy*

When the government of South Africa introduced its new Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act in 1996, Dr. Harvey Ward, an obstetrician in Cape Town, warned legislators that the Act had been drafted without regard to the ability of existing medical facilities and personnel to cope with its demands. In addition to logistical problems associated with resources and training, he drew attention to the fact that a significant number of health care personnel would likely object to participation in abortion for reasons of conscience.

"The Government would do well," he wrote, " to ensure that there are satisfactory answers before plunging the medical profession into a serious crisis by prematurely enacting this bill."

Dr. Ward's letters are reproduced here:

Subsequently, Dr. Ward surveyed state doctors in the Western Cape to determine if they were willing to implement the new law. Much of the survey is now available on the Project site.


















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