South African bishops protest over abortion bill

 Following news that the South African government is considering a new bill which will increase the availability of abortion and allow nurses to carry out the procedure, Archbishop George Francis Daniel from the South African Bishops' Conference has issued the following statement: Abortion was legalised under certain circumstances in South Africa in March 1975 under the previous government. These circumstances were in cases of danger to the mother's life or her physical or mental health and in other so-called "hard cases", like rape and incest, as well as the risk of giving birth to a seriously handicapped child. In 1996, despite overwhelming public opposition, abortion on demand was legalised. Since then over 380 000 babies have been aborted. The government, in conjunction with the Pro-Abortion umbrella organisation "Reproductive Rights Alliance", consider that the permissive legislation has not been as successful as they had hoped. Far-reaching changes in the "Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2003 tabled in Parliament. If passed, more babies will be killed, more mothers will suffer injury to their physical and mental health and the right of health care workers to conscientiously object to perform or be involved in performing abortions will be further weakened. The Amendment Bill allows nurses to perform abortions. Currently, only doctors and midwives are allowed to carry out this procedure: Abortion is a blind-medical procedure which can result in the perforation of the uterus, sepsis and haemorrhage. Nurses are less skilled than doctors and midwives. The woman's health will be threatened by the downgrading of qualifications and training necessary to carry out this procedure. An unfair burden will be placed on the nurses, who are more likely to make mistakes which will expose them to charges of malpractice. The Bill would transfer authority for abortions from the National Minister of Health to a member of the Executive Council of a Provincial who is responsible for health. This will mean the promotion of unequal standards which will further impact on the health of the women. Lastly, the Bill provides that all health facilities with 24-hour maternity services would be automatically designated as abortion facilities. This would violate the rights of those staff members who conscientiously object. Medical students and nurses will be pressurised to perform or participate in abortions. Let us protest as we ask the Lord to deliver us from this evil. Archbishop George Francis Daniel Source: SABC

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