Inaugural Lecture on Progressive Reproductive Law in South Africa

Professor Donrich Willem Thaldar.
Professor Donrich Willem Thaldar.

A new era of reproductive law is emerging, with the potential for considerable disruption. This was the theme of the inaugural lecture delivered by Professor Donrich Thaldar of the School of Law.

Thaldar unpacked the complex dynamics of three cases – AB v Minister of Social Development, Ex Parte KF2, and Surrogacy Advisory Group v Minister of Health – on the expansion of procreative freedom in an era of artificial reproductive technologies. Artificial reproductive technologies deal with the genesis of human life – a process traditionally held in profound regard. These technologies signal greater human control over natural processes. 

Presenting the cases from a freedom-versus-authority perspective offered a fresh viewpoint, enabling his audience to understand how these legal arguments have redefined and shaped South Africa’s reproductive law landscape. 

Thaldar underscored the need to balance the personal freedoms that come with advanced scientific capabilities and the interests of prospective children. He examined viewpoints that seek to preserve personal freedom in reproduction and those arguing for government authority in regulating these cutting-edge technologies.

Thaldar acted as counsel in all three cases. He remarked that his ‘arguments did not always convince the court; some battles are won, and some are lost, but overall, I suggest that the trajectory is progressive in the sense that it favours procreative freedom.’

He added that principles derived from these precedents could be extended to future reproductive technologies like human genome editing. 

Words: Sibonginkosi Mabika

Photograph: Supplied

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