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Abortion Under ApartheidNationalism, Sexuality, and Women's Reproductive Rights in South Africa$
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Susanne M. Klausen

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199844494

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199844494.001.0001

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“Reclaiming the White Daughter’s Purity”

“Reclaiming the White Daughter’s Purity”

The Passage of the 1975 Abortion and Sterilization Act

(p.154) Chapter 6 “Reclaiming the White Daughter’s Purity”
Abortion Under Apartheid

Susanne M. Klausen

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the legislative process that culminated in the passage of South Africa’s first statutory law on abortion, The Abortion and Sterilization Act (1975). It shows that by the early 1970s, the National Party could no longer withstand calls to amend the abortion law: members of the judiciary and the medical and legal professions, ARAG, and the Commission of Inquiry into the Mental Disorders Act were demanding law reform. The regime considered calls for a new abortion law a symptom of “permissiveness,” the moral disease infecting white South Africa, and initially ignored them. But the outcome of prosecutions of medical abortionists, especially the acquittal in 1971 of Dr. Laurence van Druten who helped a teenager pregnant from rape, brought the law’s authority into doubt. The government had to act and finally tabled draft legislation that was subsequently sent to a Select Committee and a Commission of Inquiry for review and amendment.

Keywords:   The Abortion and Sterilization Act (1975), ARAG, Medical profession, Legal profession, Commission of Inquiry into the Mental Disorders Act, Permissiveness, Dr. van Druten, Select Committee of Inquiry on Abortion and Sterilization, Dolly Maister, Commission of Inquiry into the Abortion and Sterilization Bill

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