South Africa's abortion laws are more harshly restrictive than the legislation in many other Western countries and have given rise to an active campaign for amendments and the recognition that women should have the right to choose. In 1972, June Cope founded the Abortion Reform Action Group (ARAG) which campaigned for enlightened legislation, especially when the Nationalist government set up a Commission to investigate abortion. Drawing on her own experiences, interviews and correspondence, Cope argues in this book that the oppressive abortion law of 1975 - only slightly amended since then - did not reflect public opinion as its perpetrators claimed, and that the Commission misrepresented the evidence put before it. In South Africa, the reform movement was opposed not only by the usual anti-abortion arguments, but also by an "unseen hand". Cope offers evidence that points to the source of this influence, exposing the government's determination to increase the white population to maintain the unreal fabric of apartheid society.
Cope's account of the passing of the 1975 Abortion and Sterilization Act is followed by an examination of its effects on doctors, hospitals and the women who suffered under its restrictions. When amendments to the legislation were not forthcoming, Cope took an independent line and pursued more radical solutions in neighbouring countries and the "homelands".
Publisher: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press