An MP from the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) has submitted a private member’s bill. If approved, it would see laws on women’s reproductive rights change drastically in South Africa. If this bill is passed, it would make it extremely difficult for women to undergo an abortion after the 12-week mark, unless the pregnancy is a health risk. The bill would also seek to dissuade women from choosing an abortion. Other than these two major changes, there are also other stringent processes MP Dudley and her party would try and implement that essentially strip many women of options and restrict abortion in the country.
The ACDP has, over the years, kept a rather conservative stance when it comes to civil issues pertaining to women and the LGBTQI+ community. In their latest attempt, the ever-charming MP Dudley put this bill forward. The bill proposes that it should be:
- Illegal to have an abortion after 13 weeks, unless there are severe health risks to the mother
- Illegal to have an abortion even if the pregnancy poses risk of injury to the foetus
- Mandatory to receive counselling before an abortion, where doctors will be forced to try and dissuade a woman from undergoing the procedure
- Mandatory for doctors to show women pictures and ultrasounds of the foetus during their counselling
Besides the fact that it takes away basic reproductive rights of women, the bill implies that abortion is the ‘easy’ way out for women. It also makes the assumption that women are uninformed about what an abortion is by forcing women to look at pictures of the foetus.
This is not the first time the ACDP has jabbed its finger in women’s rights and interests. At the Marie Stopes clinic in Cape Town CBD, there is a driver who parks his vehicle outside on a few days each week. Plastered across his vehicle are anti-abortion slogans and pictures. Although the City of Cape Town tried to prevent this intimidation of women using the clinic’s services, the ACDP stepped in and fought the City on legislative details, and the city in turn had to concede and allow the man to continue parking his vehicle there.
The ACDP is motivating to curb women’s choices over what they do with their bodies in South Africa, however, the party has a tiny percentage of parliamentary seats. In the end, we live in a secular democracy, and we should encourage freedom of thought and expression, but not at the expense of other people’s fundamental rights.