Fonds BC1174 - The Abortion Rights Action Group (ARAG) Archive

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The Abortion Rights Action Group (ARAG) Archive


  • 1970-1999 (Creation)

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Ca. 1800 items

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The Archive of the Abortion Rights Action Group (ARAG) was deposited in the University of Cape Town Libraries upon the organisation’s committee decision that ARAG, in May 1999, would cease to function as an organisation.
Mrs Dolly Maister founded ARAG – an organisation of both women and men – originally called the South African Abortion Reform League, in 1971. Mrs Maister was prompted into forming an organisation – for legalising abortion on liberal terms – after hearing a speech given by Professor D. Crichton of Natal University, at the University of Cape Town’s student’s annual medical conference in 1971. Dr Marj Dyer, a trained medical doctor soon joined Mrs Maister to head ARAG – her medical background serving to add credibility to the organisation’s aims. Since its founding, ARAG has protested ceaselessly against injustices to women, in its bid to have elective abortion (“on demand”) made legal in South Africa.
In 1996 the South African parliament passed an act stating that abortion “on demand” was by law deemed legal, after more than twenty years of campaigning by ARAG and other pro-choice supporters. The 1996 Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act does not exist uncontested, however. In 1998, Pro-Life supporters, who took their challenge to the Pretoria High Court, launched an unsuccessful attack against the act.
The Archive covers the years 1970 – 1999 and includes minutes, conference papers, correspondence, newsletters and newspaper clippings. This collection reflects the wide range of people and organisations who have supported and been in contact with ARAG, as well as those who have existed in opposition to its cause, over the organisation’s twenty-eight year span. The operating of ARAG from offices in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria allowed for the dissemination of information to all sectors of the South African community. It is for this reason that the organisation accumulated vast amounts of varied information since its beginnings in 1971. The fact that ARAG functioned as a non-racial, non-political and non-sectarian organisation also allowed for diverse gatherings of information. Despite the closing of the organisation and its head offices, Dr. Marj Dyer – one of ARAG’s chief committee members – remains as the “contact representative” for ARAG should any further information be required.


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No restrictions apply

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  • English

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  • English



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