South Africa Abortion Centers Reach Legal Settlement With Health Department

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Africa Abortion Centers Reach Legal Settlement With Health Department

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 9
, 2008

Pretoria, South Africa ( — The British abortion business Marie Stopes International, which also operates abortion centers in South Africa, has reached a settlement with a provincial health department regarding licensing requirements. The settlement may result in relaxing the health and safety standards for the abortion centers.

Four Marie Stopes abortion facilities failed to get the proper medical license to operate and, in May 2007, they received notice from the Western Cape department of heath.

Health officials threatened criminal sanctions if they continued to operate without proper documentation and inspection.

The pro-abortion Women’s Legal Centre challenged the demand in the Cape High Court and claimed closing down the abortion businesses for not following the health statutes would compromise a woman’s so-called legal right to an abortion.

In an agreement with the Cape High Court, MSI was able to stall a hearing on the matter until February 2008.

Now, SABC News reports the Western Cape Department of Health and the Marie Stopes abortion centers have reached a legal settlement in the lawsuit.

The pro-abortion attorneys told the news service that health officials have agreed to relax the standards for the abortion centers.

That may have occurred because the MSI centers say they are now in compliance with the sections of the health and safety laws that the health department originally cited.

In 2007, Noluthando Ntlokwana, a lawyer for the abortion centers, told SABC News that they would continue to do unlicensed abortions until the legal matter was resolved.

Ntlokwana also claimed the health codes are outdated.
"The regulation that the province wants to impose was passed in 1980 under a different act," she alleged. "What we are arguing is that the department can’t use those regulations because the act says that provinces can make regulations in consultation with the minister under the choice act."

Health department representative Faiza Steyn said at the time it wasn’t trying to prevent MSI from doing abortions but wanted it to follow the laws and requirements.