GEORGE NEWS - For 15 years Sonja Smit has been fighting to change legislation to give unborn babies a voice. Her voice was finally heard in the high court last year November, after she summoned both the ministers of health and home affairs to appear in court.
According to Smith her case was heard over two days.
Her battle started after she, as a funeral director, was called to a hospital to remove the tiny bodies of triplets who were miscarried at 20 weeks. "When I got there I was told the medical waste truck had just left, with them inside."
She says she kicked up such a fuss in the hospital that the unit manager went and retrieved the bodies of the foetuses, and the parents were able to give them a proper funeral.
She decided to start a non-profit company, The Voice of the Unborn Baby, to give women a platform to share their stories. It also gave Smith the courage to take her fight to the highest courts.
"We were promised a ruling in the first quarter of the new year," she says.
"We could not question the viability of life, which in South Africa is defined at 26 weeks. So we chose the human right element - that not having this choice is an infringement of basic human rights."
Smith says a foetus miscarried at 25 weeks and six days is regarded as medical waste, but a baby born still a day later may be buried. According to her, these are archaic legislative concepts that need to change.
She believes their arguments were solid and that changing legislation can make that change for mothers, especially those who cannot fall pregnant again and want a grave to visit or the baby's ashes to keep.
Local case hits home
Smith approached George Herald recently after she read about the Jacobs family in Borcherds whose baby was incinerated together with medical waste.
Nicole Jacobs (18) was traumatised by the loss of her baby and in this condition, she was allegedly handed a form to sign. She says she was not informed that, by signing the form, she gave the hospital permission to incinerate her baby.
This case hit home for Smith as her own daughter had also miscarried.
She believes women and new mothers should have the choice to decide whether they want to bury or cremate their prospective child or let it be incinerated by the hospital if miscarried before 26 weeks of gestation.
'We bring you the latest George, Garden Route news'