28 May 2023, Johannesburg — SECTION27 launched a successful urgent application on behalf of a pregnant minor who was denied access to termination of pregnancy (TOP) services at a primary public healthcare facility in Gauteng. The minor made multiple attempts to access these services, in accordance with her rights under the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act 92 of 1996 (CTOPA). She was denied access to this right repeatedly. The healthcare provider at the primary healthcare facility where the girl attended incorrectly told her that the position of the foetus meant that she was disqualified for a TOP and did not refer her to a tertiary hospital. This denial delayed access to the TOP.
The CTOPA provides that women and girls are legally permitted to obtain a TOP up to and including the 20th week of pregnancy, on non-medical grounds. The minor is now 20 weeks and 4 days pregnant, with only 2 days remaining to obtain the TOP lawfully. The application having been first argued on 27 May 2023, today Thompson AJ granted an order compelling the Gauteng Department of Health to make arrangements to provide the minor with a TOP by Monday, 29 May 2023.
The minor’s right to reproductive health services, bodily autonomy and access to healthcare services was violated when the primary healthcare facility failed to refer her to a tertiary healthcare facility.
In our view, the respondents in the case (the Member of the Executive Council in the Gauteng Department of Health and the Head of Department of Health in Gauteng) failed to fulfil their constitutional obligation in terms of section 27(1)(a) of the Constitution, which states that “everyone has the right to access health care services, including reproductive health care”.
SECTION27 welcomes the decision of the urgent court. Girls and women are entitled to bodily autonomy and to assert their right to sexual and reproduction health. The urgent court’s finding is an important step in securing a TOP in terms of section 2(1)(b) of the CTOPA.
For media queries, contact
Pearl Nicodemus | email@example.com | 082 298 2636