by Terry Bellamak
2018 was a big, amazing year for ALRANZ.
We all saw Ireland amend their constitution to allow the Oireachtas to legislate to allow abortion. We got a preview of terrible amendments to watch out for as we progress our own law reform process, like pointless waiting periods and restrictive time limits.
We saw Queensland legalise abortion, and got a preview of some good ideas to replicate here, like a government-sponsored online fact checker, to keep the debate fact-based.
We saw Argentina debate a bill liberalising abortion, saw pro-choice activists come closer to success than anyone expected, and saw them make plans to come roaring back in the New Year for another try.
We saw ALRANZ start a human rights complaint with the Human Rights Commission, saying our abortion laws discriminate against women and those who are or can be pregnant. Our case will go before the Human Right Review Tribunal in due course.
We saw the Law Commission deliver a report on abortion law reform that was not perfect, but was better than just about anybody expected.
We saw the Minister of Justice choose the supposed path of least resistance when he came out in favour of Model C, which has a time limit of 22 weeks, beyond which a pregnant person must seek permission to exercise sovereignty over their own body.
We saw polls that show a clear, growing majority of New Zealanders support abortion on request.
2019 will need all our efforts to ensure New Zealanders get the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to become parents.
If we don’t make law reform happen now, we will likely wait a long time for another chance.
First up will be the Minister of Justice’s presentation of the Law Commission report to Cabinet, possibly with draft legislation, in January or February.
A bill will undoubtedly make it to select committee. That’s where the rubber hits the road for us. We will need everyone’s help to make the committee aware of the problems with the current law, and the defects of the less-desirable options from the Law Commission report.
There are some of you who have stories to tell the select committee. I hope you will seriously consider telling them, in a written submission or in person at an open or closed meeting of the select committee.
If anyone has any questions about that, or might prefer to tell their story at a closed meeting, please contact us here at ALRANZ – we are happy to mediate to whatever extent we can, and preserve your anonymity while we (and you) gather information upon which to base your decision whether or not to speak.
We hope the final vote will be in 2019.
Thanks so much for all your support over the past year. Here’s to victory in 2019!