ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa welcomes the Abortion Legislation Select Committee’s report, released today.
The select committee made a few significant changes to the bill.
“A section had been added creating a positive duty on the part of the Minister of Health to ensure reproductive health services and related counselling are available in every part of New Zealand. That is very positive,” said ALRANZ National president, Terry Bellamak.
“Decriminalisation is crucial, but without good access in all areas of the country, the inequities we see now between urban and rural, wealthy and struggling, will continue.”
Bellamak also noted some changes for the worse.
“This version of the bill increases restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks, requiring another health practitioner to be consulted, and adding elements to the test. This is an unnecessary burden on people with wanted pregnancies that are in medical trouble, that may lead to unnecessary delay. No one chooses an abortion at later gestations.
“They have also added a five yearly review to examine whether sex-selective abortions are happening in New Zealand. There is no evidence that they are, so that seems like a waste of time and money.
“But the worst part is adding a section explicitly allowing conscientious obstruction in cases of health practitioners supplying contraception after sexual assault. This stigmatises sexual violence even more, and puts survivors on notice that their health and wellbeing is secondary to the psychological comfort of health practitioners in the eyes of the government.”
On the whole, however, ALRANZ believes the statutes the bill is amending are so flawed that it would be irresponsible for Parliament to fail to pass the bill.
See ALRANZ’s analysis of the post-select committee bill here: http://alranz.org/the-abortion-legislation-select-committee-reports-back-bismarck-vindicated/
In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act.
ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion. Under New Zealand’s current 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.