In Practice

Termination of pregnancy: Cultural practices, the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act and the constitutional rights of children

D J McQuoid-Mason


The cultural practice of ukuthwala, the abduction for marriage of young girls, violates their constitutional rights and contravenes the Children’s and Sexual Offences Act. The provisions of the Choice Act for the third trimester of pregnancy are more onerous than the former Abortion Act and violate the constitutional rights of girls and women who face a serious threat to their physical or mental health or have been raped or subjected to incest. The Choice Act should be amended accordingly. Until it is amended, healthcare practitioners should use the constitutional ‘best interests of the child’ principle as interpreted by the Children’s Act when deciding whether or not to terminate the pregnancy of a child in the third trimester.

Author's affiliations

D J McQuoid-Mason, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Medical law; Cultural practices; Termination of pregnancy; Constitutional rights; Children

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2018;108(9):721-723. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2018.v108i9.13289

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-08-30
Date published: 2018-08-30

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