Voice Of The Unborn Baby
BACKGROUND: What is the case about?
In March 2017, Voice of the Unborn Baby, a non-profit organisation and the main Applicant, launched a court case, asking the court to declare that certain provisions of the Births and Deaths Registration Act (51 of 1992, “BADRA”) and the Regulations Relating to the Management of Human Remains are unconstitutional. The effect of the requested relief, if given by the court, will be that parents who lose a child before 26 weeks in the womb will be able to receive the bodily remains of their miscarried baby for burial, if they so choose.
INJUSTICE: WHY we must act and WHAT is at stake?
Under current South African law, babies who are miscarried prior to 26 weeks in the womb technically constitute “medical waste” (remains of medical/surgical procedures) and are treated as such. Parents are unable to receive their baby’s bodily remains for the purposes of a burial.
The basis of the Applicant’s case is that the bereavement experienced by the grieving parents gives them a legal entitlement to bury their miscarried baby. Cause for Justice (CFJ) empathises with this and we are concerned about an even more fundamental issue that the case presents, namely THE DIGNITY (worth/value) OF UNBORN HUMAN LIFE.
In essence, we say that it is not the viability of the unborn baby at the time when he/she is miscarried that gives his/her life dignity and enables an acknowledgment of his/her existence. Rather, it is the fact that the unborn baby is human, a member of humanity (the human family), that gives his/her life incalculable value or worth. It is this reality that should inform the content of our laws and which the court in this case must consider and that is why we are taking action.
The current state of the law is a dreadful miscarriage of justice and cannot remain unchallenged – the life growing inside the womb is human and human life, whether at 26 weeks and 1 day or at 25 weeks and 6 days, may be accorded whatever dignity a parent wishes to bestow on the loss of such a precious human life. When someone loses a baby, they lose a loved one – and everyone should be legally entitled to bury their loved ones.
CFJ’s INVOLVEMENT: What can be done & what will we do?
CFJ has joined the case as a friend of the court (amicus curiae party) to assist the court in the interpretation and application of the constitutional rights, values and interests implicated by the facts of the case. To this end, we put together a strong legal team to conduct the necessary legal and scientific research, to prepare our court documents and present our case in court.
STATUS UPDATE: Where do things stand and what will happen next?
The two Respondent Ministers, the Ministers of Home Affairs and of Health, are opposing the court application.
On 26 March 2018, the Catholic Archdiocese of Durban was admitted as an Intervening Party (i.e. a co-applicant) to the case. The Catholic Church intervene in the matter on behalf of its members, who hold – as a matter of religious belief backed by medical science – that human life starts at conception and that people of such persuasion should be legally entitled to treat the end of human life prior to live birth, with the dignity of a burial. They have not filed their final court documents, but it is expected to be submitted in June 2018. Once this outstanding replying affidavit by the Catholic Archdiocese is received, it is expected that a hearing date will be allocated
WHAT YOU CAN DO: How can you help us?
You can support this cause by:
- Contributing financially to enable our legal team to do the work necessary to make the much needed change a reality (Donate)