Last Saturday 18 March, Aotearoa New Zealand marked the first anniversary of the passage of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Act 2022. ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa notes that in spite of the act, New Zealand has no safe areas.
The process to create a safe area is cumbersome and time-consuming. It requires months of work by the Ministry of Health to plot out the safe area and get it approved. After all that, the fate of a safe area is in the hands of Cabinet, which can move it forward or ignore it.
There are currently about a dozen safe area applications in the pipeline. Half are ready for Cabinet to consider.
People who receive or provide abortion care need safe areas yesterday. Every day, people have to walk by judgemental anti-abortion protesters with huge, misleading, gory signs in order to access safe, legal health care.
ALRANZ president Dr Tracy Morison said, “Parliament passed the Safe Areas Bill because they saw the need for it. If there’s a need, and there definitely is, then the process for creating safe areas isn’t fit for purpose because not one safe area has been created to date.”
ALRANZ believes Cabinet needs to approve the safe areas applications as a matter of urgency, or admit the government got it wrong when they set out the requirements for creating safe areas.