ANC to Whip in Abortion Changes

By Reuter, Juliette Saunders | The Independent (London, England), October 11, 1996 | Go to article overview
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ANC to Whip in Abortion Changes


Reuter, Juliette Saunders, The Independent (London, England)


Cape Town - The ruling African National Congress (ANC) yesterday ordered its MPs to vote in favour of changing South Africa's abortion laws from among the world's strictest to among the most liberal.

All opposition parties in parliament have decided to allow their MPs to vote on the abortion bill according to conscience and religious beliefs, but the majority ANC needs a party vote to guarantee adoption of the pro- choice legislation.

"We are calling on all ANC MPs to come to the vote, and the whips {in parliament} will be on their backs to check that - not only that they are there, but that they vote positively," said Arnold Stofile, ANC chief whip in the National Assembly. The vote over abortion on demand is the toughest moral challenge yet for the ANC. Its Christian and Muslim MPs have privately voiced concern at the party's approach and intimated they would find excuses to be absent on the day of the vote, scheduled for 29 October in the National Assembly. It goes to the Senate on 5 November, and becomes law if both houses deliver a simple majority. Addressing a news conference after an ANC caucus meeting in parliament, Mr Stofile said that ANC leaders were aware of the concerns among members who were religious but hoped to reassure them through theological discussion.

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