PRETORIA, May 31, 2004 ( – The Pretoria High Court ruled Friday that girls under the age of 18 can continue to access abortion without parental knowledge or consent.

The ruling came after a challenge was launched against the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act by the South African Christian Lawyer’s Association. Judge Phineas Mojapelo ruled that it was unconstitutional to restrict a girl’s access to abortion.  The Women’s Legal Centre, which argued on behalf of the Reproductive Rights Alliance, claimed that laws requiring parental consent would endanger girl’s lives by restricting their access to “safe” abortions. Women’s Legal Centre attorney Nikki Taylor argued that “Adolescent pregnancies are dangerous for mother and child. Every year at least 60,000 adolescent women die from health problems related to pregnancy and child birth.”

South African opposition African Christian Democratic Party’s (ACDP) Kenneth Meshoe told IOL news that, considering the HIV pandemic affecting South Africa, the court’s loosening of laws that would encourage “reckless sexual behaviour” among adolescent girls was irresponsible. Meshoe said the ACDP party “will not agree to something as destructive as this law. It’s disgusting, shocking and the least expected of a government that claims to believe in the family – a building block of any strong and winning nation,” Meshoe said.  Read the Special Report about a major Finnish study, which determined that women who abort are nearly four times as likely to die in the year following their abortions as women who give birth are in the year following the arrival of their babies, including a 60 percent greater chance of death from natural causes and a risk of suicide seven times higher. A prominent, pro-choice American doctor reviewed the Finnish study before its U.S. publication, and concluded “It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that abortion in not safer than childbirth,” a common myth perpetuated by pro-choice groups.


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