by Steven Ertelt
August 17, 2006
Pretoria, South Africa (LifeNews.com) — The Constitutional Court in South Africa invalidated two bills including one that allows nurses to do abortions. The ruling came after a challenge by the pro-life group Doctors for Life International.
The court overturned the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act and the Traditional Health Practitioners Act.
Judge Sandile Ngcobo said in a 117 page ruling that they "must be declared invalid." Seven judges agreed and two dissented in the ruling.
The court found that the nation’s parliament had not allowed enough public participation before adopting the legislation. Parliament now has 18 months to give public input and re-approve the bills.
The court found the National Council of Provinces failed to hold adequate public hearings on both bills despite numerous requests to do so.
DFL spokesperson John Smyth said the ruling shows parliament can’t "cut corners" in approving legislation.
"The case will be of great importance to Parliament in respect of all legislation, not merely health bills, because the highest Court in the land has now made it clear … that Parliament must not cut corners but provide sufficient time and opportunity for citizens … to have their say in respect of all bills passing through Parliament," he said.
The Nurses Union DENOSA also joined Doctors for Life in opposing the legislation.
A Christian group applauded the decision and the work of Doctors for Life.
"We thank the Constitutional Court and congratulate Doctors for Life International on this historic victory for participatory democracy," ChristianView Network director Philip Rosenthal said.
"We hope that the reopened debate will overturn this bad law, which prejudices the rights of the unborn, mothers and nurses," he added.
Rosenthal said a survey found 86 percent of South Africa residents opposed allowing nurses to do abortions.
He also said ANC representatives continuously refused requests to media debate on the issue.
"In 2004 ChristianView Network offered a reward of R2000 to anyone who could find a ruling party MP willing to defend this law in public debate. That prize, despite being widely advertised in parliament and the media, is still unclaimed."