Christian and medical pro-life activists in South Africa have expressed outrage and disbelief at the approval of an abortion-on-demand bill by the legislature despite overwhelming public resistance to abortion on demand.

Following the largest-ever campaign against abortion in South Africa, the National Assembly adopted the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill on October 30. The bill needed 201 votes for passage, and it received 209, with 87 National Assembly lawmakers opposed. The Senate confirmed the legislation November 5 with a 49-to-21 vote. President Nelson Mandela signed it into law December 11.

The bill permits abortion on demand for any woman, up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. It provides for abortion from the thirteenth to the twentieth week if a medical practitioner believes it necessary to ensure the health of the woman, or if "the continued pregnancy would significantly affect the social or economic circumstances of the woman."

DISSENTERS STIFLED: Christian groups have blasted Mandela's majority African National Congress (ANC) for not allowing a free vote of individual members who did not agree with party views on the legislation. More than 60 ANC members who apparently objected to the bill stayed away from the National Assembly on the day of the vote.

ANC objectors were not allowed to oppose the bill, and pro-lifers have noted that the legislation would have died had those dissenting ANC lawmakers been given the freedom to vote their conscience. All opposition parties other than the small Democratic Party and the Pan Africanist Congress voted against the bill.

ANC leaders driving the legislation were undemocratic, says Fano Sibisi, president of the lobbyist organization Christians for Truth (CFT). "They are ...

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