BACKGROUND: What is the case about?
Voice of the Unborn Baby, a non-profit organisation and the main Applicant of the case, launched the court case on the 8th of March 2017, 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 entitled to receive the body of their miscarried baby and to have a proper burial, if they want to.
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 body 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 requires 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.
CFJ’s INVOLVEMENT: What can be done & what will we do?
CFJ has obtained the parties’ consent to join 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.
We have put together a strong legal team to conduct the necessary legal and scientific research, to prepare the various court documents we would need to submit to court and to present our case in court at the hearing of the matter.
STATUS UPDATE: Where do things stand and what will happen next?
After the application was launched in March 2017, the two Respondent Ministers, the Ministers of Home Affairs and of Health, gave notice in April of their intention to oppose the application, but have not yet filed their answering affidavits to disclose why they are opposing the relief sought in the interest of miscarried babies.
The Pretoria High Court heard the parties for the first time on Monday, 11 September 2017.
At this hearing, the court instructed the parties to approach the Deputy Judge President of the court for directions around a timeline for the further progress of the case.
It is expected that the parties will deliver final court papers by the end of October 2017 and that the court hearing is likely to take place in the first quarter of 2018.
CFJ also has it on good authority that one of the Diocese of the Catholic Church is poised to intervene in the matter on behalf of its members, who hold – as a matter of religious belief – 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.
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)