CAPE TOWN, August 18, 2004 ( – The South African parliament is fast approaching its landmark vote on the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill which will widen the republic’s already loose abortion laws. Abortion was legalized in 1996, only two years after the defeat of apartheid and the democratic election of Nelson Mandela; now, the bill under consideration would allow nurses to carry out abortions and authorize abortion in a wider range of health facilities.  In 1996, the ruling party (African National Congress) instructed its members to vote for the act that legalized abortion, threatening to discipline any MP who opposed it. The same party may be planning another high-handed move, as parliament has decided to vote on the bill August 19 without allowing any previous debate. ChristianView Network, a South African pro-life group alarmed at the way the government is proceeding, is offering a modest reward of 2000 Rand (equivalent of $400 Canadian Dollars) to whoever can find a politician willing to debate the new amendment bill on radio on behalf of the Parliamentary Committee on Health.  Though the push behind the bill is overwhelming, not one politician has been found. On August 17, parliamentarians were met by protestors who expressed their dismay at the government’s refusal to debate the bill. In an August 17 press release, a spokesman of ChristianView Network argued, “If the government doesn’t have the guts to defend the law in public debate, then they shouldn’t pass the law.” Polls show that the 1996 abortion law is the most unpopular existing legislation, and that 9 out of 10 South Africans are opposed to abortion. ChristianView Network also pointed out that “parliament finds time to debate many other bills of comparatively trivial importance.”  Jmo