CAPE TOWN, August 19, 2004 ( – Today the South African parliament passed a bill allowing registered nurses to perform abortions and authorizing abortion in a wider range of health care facilities. In a democracy in which 9 out of 10 citizens oppose abortion, it is surprising that the bill passed with little opposition from MP’s and almost no public debate.  ChristianView Network, a South African pro-life group dismayed at the government’s unwillingness to debate the issue publicly, offered a substantial reward to whoever found a politician willing to debate the issue on South African radio, but kept its money as none stepped forward to defend the new bill.  Politicians on both sides of the abortion issue voted against the bill today. Many are concerned that it is bad law in that allowing already overburdened and under-qualified nurses to perform abortions would increase the risk to pregnant women, and that doctors and nurses who opposed abortion would be put under still greater pressure to participate in abortion procedures against their will.  A statement from the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC), issued at the end of their assembly shortly before the voting, decried the bill in no uncertain terms:  “We are furthermore deeply disturbed by the proposal that the new amendment bill seeks to extend to nurses the right to destroy innocent life through even more freely available abortions. We note with great sadness that 330 000 innocent human lives have been destroyed since the Abortion Act came into operation in 1997. There is no doubt that the aim of the proposed amendment is to increase the number of abortions in our country and as a Church we deplore this onslaught on the lives of the unborn.”  In the name of the Catholic Church, the bishops called on all catholic medical personnel to “insist on their constitutional rights, respecting their freedom of conscience and to refuse to cooperate in the performance of abortions.”  See press releases at SACBC website: and read additional coverage