The continued fall in the number of abortions in New Zealand does not change the need for law reform, the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand says.
Statistics New Zealand reports 12,823 induced abortions were performed in 2016, compared with 13,155 in 2015.
This represents a decrease in the abortion rate per 1000 women aged between 15 and 44 years, from 14.2 in 2015 to 13.5 in 2016.
“The abortion rate in New Zealand continues to fall, particularly for younger women,” ALRANZ president Terry Bellamak says.
“But abortion is still regulated as a crime, instead of being treated like all other forms of health care.
“A majority of New Zealanders support access to legal abortion in all circumstances. Our laws must be reformed to reflect that reality.
“In the run-up to September’s General Election, ALRANZ calls on all political parties to include abortion law reform in their policy platforms.”
ALRANZ would like to see abortion decriminalised and treated as a health matter between a woman and her doctor. ALRANZ believes the government should not be in the position of forcing people to continue unwanted pregnancies.
“Abortion is a health issue, not a crime. New Zealand’s archaic laws reflect a time when women were considered unfit to make decisions for themselves. Those days are gone,” Ms Bellamak says.
“The current laws require women to pretend mental illness in order to get the care they need. These laws are absurd.”
12,823 abortions were performed in New Zealand, 332 (3 percent) fewer than in 2015 (13,155).
The general abortion rate was 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, down from 14.2 per 1,000 in 2015.
Women aged 20–24 years had the highest abortion rate (21 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20–24 years), down from a high of 41 in 2003.
Most abortions (64 percent) were a woman’s first abortion.
57 percent of abortions were performed before the 10th week of the pregnancy.
18 percent of known pregnancies (live births, stillbirths, and abortions) ended in an abortion.
ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa
13 March 2017
PRIME MINISTER’S IGNORANCE ON ABORTION LAW SHOWS NEED FOR REFORM
The Prime Minister’s support for New Zealand’s outdated abortion laws is deeply disappointing and shows how badly reform is needed, ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa says.
Bill English and Labour leader Andrew Little showed how vast the gulf between National and Labour is on abortion law reform in interviews given today.
Mr English believes abortion laws had “stood the test of time” and he confirmed he is comfortable obstructing any change to the 40-year old legal regime.
The current law frames abortion as a crime and forces pregnant people to lie that their mental or physical health is at risk if they want to end their pregnancy.
“Mr English either supports forcing people to carry pregnancies they do not want, or he wants them to go through a degrading, complicated, and expensive process,” ALRANZ President Terry Bellamak said.
“That strikes us as a strange position for a former Finance Minister.”
Meanwhile, Mr Little says abortion laws in New Zealand need to be reviewed and upgraded.
Recent polling by Curia Research, commissioned by ALRANZ, shows a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access legal abortion if the pregnant person wants one.
“Our research shows Mr English’s extreme stance does not reflect most Kiwis’ views,” Ms Bellamak says.
“ALRANZ calls upon all political parties in New Zealand to commit to supporting a Law Commission review of our laws around abortion with a view to law reform.”
A majority of New Zealanders support abortion on request, proving our outdated laws need urgent reform, ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa says.
The poll, conducted by Curia Market Research Limited, asked respondents whether abortion should be legal in a range of circumstances – from medical emergency threatening the mother’s life, to a desire not to have children.
In all circumstances, more than half the respondents said they thought abortion should be legal.
Under the Crimes Act 1961, abortion is only allowed in limited circumstances – including serious threat to the life of the mother or foetus, threat to her mental health, or any form of incest.
“This poll demonstrates New Zealanders support abortion in circumstances where abortion is not allowed by law,” ALRANZ President Terry Bellamak says.
“This shows the current law is out of step with New Zealanders’ views – and so is the National government.
“Prime Minister Bill English and Justice Minister Amy Adams have both said this government would not pursue abortion law reform.
“These poll results show the New Zealand public holds a very different view – and it’s time this government committed to reforming this outdated legislation.”
You can view the poll results here.
ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa
27 January 2017
NZ MUST STEP UP FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH – IN FACE OF IRRESPONSIBLE US POLICY
New Zealand should take the lead in the bid to promote women’s health around the world, after the killer blow delivered by US President Donald Trump, ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa says.
The Trump Administration has announced it will reinstate the so-called Mexico City Rule – which bars American foreign aid being given to international organisations that advocate for abortion access.
The “Global Gag Rule” also targets NGOs that provide counselling or referrals for abortion.
ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa President Terry Bellamak says it is an “ill-conceived, ill-advised” policy – which could see women die because of illegal abortions or dangerous pregnancies.
The Netherlands is assembling a group of nations to restore funding to these NGOs to close the gap. Belgium has joined the effort. Ms Bellamak says New Zealand should do the same.
“Responsible developed nations like New Zealand should take the lead in counteracting this irresponsible policy of the Trump administration,” Ms Bellamak says.
Population Action International (PAI), a global family planning advocacy organisation, called the move “the beginning of the Trump-Pence administration’s agenda to punish women everywhere.”
“If NGOs affected by the rule cannot replace the funding, women needing reproductive health care in developing nations face increased mortality rates,” Ms Bellamak says.
“Many of these organisations also offer services like contraception advice and women’s health care.
“Prime Minister Bill English is on record opposing women’s right to choose abortion for themselves – but good reproductive health services like contraception reduce unwanted pregnancies.
“New Zealand needs to step up and show it is a country committed to women – wherever in the world they live.”
Nearly a thousand New Zealanders have signed a petition calling for an end to anti-abortion protests outside Thames Hospital, after increasing intimidation of women accessing services there.
The Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) has submitted a petition to Thames Coromandel District Council, the Police and Waikato District Health Board.
“We’re asking the Council to withdraw permits for Voice for Life, and for ALRANZ too – because we believe that’s only fair,” ALRANZ President Terry Bellamak says.
“Alternatively, we’ve asked for the permitted days to be changed to any day but Friday, which is the only day of the week abortion services are offered at Thames Hospital.
“This would allow protesters their full rights to express their opinion, while allowing patients their rights to be left alone on the street, and access health services without distress and intimidation.”
Voice for Life has staged protests outside the hospital for many years, and the Council permits them to do so as long as they are peaceful and do not intrude on passers-by.
But ALRANZ believes that line has been crossed, with video being released of a Voice for Life protester behaving aggressively towards a pro-choice protester.
Thames Coromandel District Council has so far refused to withdraw Voice for Life’s permit.
“We believe the local community in Thames supports our position, and wants an end to the protests,” Ms Bellamak says.
“Voice for Life are intimidating not only women accessing abortion services, but others attending the hospital, who may have had abortions in the past.
“We hope the Council will consider this option carefully – and whatever its decision, explain it to New Zealanders.”
5 August 2016
Thames Community Takes Action Against Abortion Harassment
A community meeting in Thames on anti-abortion harassment was followed on Friday morning by a peaceful demonstration in support of Thames hospital abortion patients.
More than 40 people attended the Thursday night meeting to discuss the on-going harassment of abortion patients in Thames, and resolved to take action to counter the anti-choice protests.
Speakers included Jan Logie, Green MP, who told the meeting of the need to decriminalise abortion, which is still regulated as a crime. Ms. Logie said the criminalised law reinforced abortion stigma, which anti-choice protesters appeal to with their actions.
“Both the current law and the anti-abortion protests are based on a lack of trust for women,” Ms. Logie said.
ALRANZ President, Terry Bellamak, also spoke at the meeting, saying “women experience harassment as intrusive and intimidating, even if protesters are silent.” She said that anti-abortion harassment is another form of the street harassment all women experience.
Rachel Harrison a longtime sexual violence prevention worker in Thames made links between the abuse and control of women at the hands of violent partners and what women feel when they pass anti-abortion protests. “Both are about trying to control women,” she said.
Scott Summerfield, an ALRANZ member and local organiser, said it was really positive that the Thames community, which has looked at the harassment and intimidation for so many years, has decided to take action towards supporting women in Thames and informing the community about the challenges facing women seeking abortion services in New Zealand.
Anti-abortion protesters gather outside Thames Hospital every Friday when abortion services take place. Because the Bay of Plenty District Health Board does not provide a surgical abortion service, many Bay of Plenty women must travel to Thames for care, along with women from Waikato DHB.
Last year, 180 abortions were performed in Thames out of a national total of 13,155. Waikato District Health Board says it has received complaints that the protests are distressing to patients and their families, but pro-choice advocates say little action has been taken and the protests continue.
The meeting resolved to continue with on-going action to ensure Thames is a safe place for women needing abortion care.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
This links to a flier for the event, with some Facts and Figures about abortion in Aotearoa and the Thames service.
And here’s some media coverage by Stuff and NewsHub.