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New bill seeks to give women more choices before opting to terminate pregnancy

The principal act on the termination of pregnancies was passed more than 20 years ago, there have been significant medical advances that show a foetus is viable at 20 weeks of gestation.

Picture: Stock.xchng

CAPE TOWN - An amendment bill has been tabled in Parliament which seeks to give women greater choices before opting to terminate a pregnancy.

The Private Member's Bill has been introduced by the African Christian Democratic Party's Cheryllyn Dudley.

She says since the principal act on the termination of pregnancies was passed more than 20 years ago, there have been significant medical advances that show a foetus is viable at 20 weeks of gestation.

Dudley made history two weeks ago with the first Private Member's Bill to be passed by the National Assembly, which will allow fathers 10 days of paternity leave.

Dudley says the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act is too broad and does not provide any boundaries to abortion.

Her bill proposes mandatory counselling before a decision to abort is taken.

She says doctors alone should not be allowed to decide whether a baby born to women in low-income families will be a financial burden.

The bill is proposing that this decision be made in conjunction with a social worker.

Dudley says the "risk of injury to the foetus" should no longer be used as a valid reason to terminate an otherwise viable pregnancy after 20 weeks since every birth could be said to pose a risk to the baby.

The bill proposes that every woman be permitted to an ultrasound to determine the exact period of gestation so as to make an informed choice on whether or not to terminate the pregnancy.

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