ALRANZ welcomes the release of the Law Commission’s long-awaited report on abortion law reform in New Zealand.
“The report sets out three options for reforming the law. Model A is clearly superior because it treats abortion as a health issue like any other, and does not place unnecessary barriers between pregnant people and abortion care,” said Terry Bellamak, National president of ALRANZ.
“Model B is not much better than what we currently have, and does not give pregnant people access to abortion as a matter of right, but rather, places the decision in the hands of a random health practitioner. In this way it does not fulfil the promise the Prime Minister made during the election.
“Abortions at later gestations, which constitute less that 1% of abortions internationally, almost always are responses to a crisis of some kind. Model C is not as bad as Model B, but it forces families in crisis to undergo a complicated and unnecessary legal process to receive health care their doctor has already told them they need.
“We are disappointed the Law Commission did not include a suggestion for buffer zones to prevent harassment of people seeking abortion care.
“It is also disappointing that they did not consider refusal to treat based on ‘conscience’ with respect to contraception.
“Given the short time frame, however, the Law Commission has done an amazing job. We are grateful for their excellent efforts.”
In May, the Republic of Ireland amended its constitution to remove a section that prevented their legislature from legalising abortion. This month, Queensland decriminalised abortion and reformed its laws to improve access to abortion.
In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act.
The Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, has asked the New Zealand Law Commission to review the country’s abortion laws with the intention of treating abortion as a health matter rather than a criminal matter. During the election campaign, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to reform New Zealand’s abortion laws, making abortion care available as a matter of right.
ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion. Under New Zealand’s abortion laws, two certifying consultants must approve every abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act. Those grounds do not include rape, nor the most common reasons cited overseas: contraception failure and the inability to support a child.
Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.