ALRANZ Hails UK Parliament Vote

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa applauds the United Kingdom Parliament on its historic vote to extend access to abortion and same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland’s draconian stance on abortion has put them at odds with accepted human rights conventions like European Convention on Human Rights, and judicial bodies like the UK Supreme Court,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“The law governing abortion in Northern Ireland, from 1861, prohibits all abortion care except to save the life of the mother. This is an embarrassment and a rebuke to the UK Parliament, which could have acted to extend the Abortion Act 1967 to Northern Ireland at any time since 2017. The UK is supposed to be a bastion of civil rights and freedoms, and yet the pregnant people of Northern Ireland lack basic bodily autonomy.

“Here is New Zealand we have been waiting for abortion law reform for over 40 years. Every day we still wait is an embarrassment and a rebuke to our own government.

“We welcome the Minister of Justice’s statement on Monday that abortion law reform is weeks away. Ongoing delay in putting forward this legislation affects people trying to access abortion care.

“Our current system is not fit for purpose, and its shortcomings prevent people receiving the care they need. How many people were refused care, how many people were unable to get referrals, how many were unable to travel to distant hospitals, and so had to continue a pregnancy they didn’t want?

“Everyone deserves the freedom to decide for themselves whether and when to become a parent.”

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act.

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion care. 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. 

The Wake Up Call

The Wake Up Call

Hey folks,

Those were some great poll numbers we had this morning from the University of Auckland. But, as the history of reproductive rights in Aotearoa has shown, popular will is not the deciding factor.

Back in the 1970’s most people wanted an abortion law that was much more liberal than the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 turned out to be. The government of the day ignored them and passed the strict law anyway. In 1978, a grass-roots movement gathered over 320,000 signatures on a petition to repeal that Act. Parliament buried it.

 

We recently had a wakeup call. Now we are passing it on:

Abortion law reform is not a done deal. There is uncertainty in Parliament about the fate of a prospective bill.

Most reasonable people expect the world to behave reasonably. They hear about poll numbers showing widespread support for abortion law reform across the electorate. They assume MPs will see the same thing and behave reasonably by voting for reform.

Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true.

The government has made abortion law reform a conscience issue. In practice this means MPs can do as they like. Some MPs may hear about the remarkably consistent poll numbers in favour of trusting women, but think “my electorate is different so I’d better not vote for law reform”. Others may figure “the only conscience that matters here is mine, so screw my electorate, they’ll never remember anyway”. Still others may listen to the anti-choicers who are all over the show as we speak, trying to sow doubt about research, polls, and evidence.

Ever since the formation of this government there has been an underlying expectation that, OF COURSE abortion law reform will pass, duh, finally, we’ve needed it for years. This complacency is the one thing that could prevent it from happening.

To everyone who believes human rights should apply to pregnant people: the time is now. It’s time to step up.

Here what we ask:

Can you commit to sending 2 emails to 2 different MPs each week, until law reform passes?

If you’re feeling frisky one week, send a few more. If you forget one week, it’s OK, there’s always next week. You can work through all 120 MPs, then start over.

What to say? Say what you think about abortion law reform. Tell them what you want them to do. Tell them about an article you read about abortion here or in some other country, and how it made you feel. Tell them about your grandmother’s illegal abortion. Tell them about your own abortion, or the one you helped a friend through.

They don’t need to be long. What you write is less important than the fact that you wrote. You can use this page to make it even easier.

It’s not daunting – almost everyone can write 2 emails off the top of their heads. The key here is consistency. Can you keep it up for months?

Because that is what this fight will take: sustained effort over the course of many months. Many people have PM’ed and emailed us, asking what they could do to make law reform happen.

This. This is what we can all do.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

Two-Thirds Support Abortion for Any Reason

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa applauds new research by the University of Auckland, showing two-thirds of New Zealanders support the right to receive abortion care for any reason.

“Polling on the issue has shown remarkable consistency over time, trending steadily upwards as reproductive rights are better understood,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“This shows that the people of New Zealand want an abortion provision system that treats abortion like all other forms of health care. The situation the poll question described was basically Model A from the Law Commission’s report.

“The question is whether Parliament will pass legislation that reflects the public will, or instead will continue to treat the New Zealand people with unjustified paternalism, and treat pregnant people as incompetent to make their own medical decisions.

“Everyone deserves the freedom to decide for themselves whether and when to become a parent.”

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act.

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion care. 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. 

2018 Abortion Statistics Show Opportunity for Improvement

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa said the abortion statistics released today by Stats NZ show little change in the general abortion numbers, but point to opportunities for improvement in health care if abortion law reform passes.

“These stats show a continuing trend toward abortion care at earlier gestations. This demonstrates people want abortion care as early as possible,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“Early medical abortion uses two different medicines taken 24 – 48 hours apart. Current law requires both medications to be taken in a licenced institution. This is unnecessary, as is shown by the good results in other countries where the pills are taken at home. Abortion law reform of the kind discussed by the Law Commission would allow early medical abortions to be completed at home, where the person feels comfortable as does not run the risk of miscarrying in transit.”

“Also, people in rural areas can find it difficult to receive abortion care due to the distance to the nearest provider, and the expense of funding travel and childcare. Early medical abortion care could bridge the gap in rural areas.

 “Everyone deserves the freedom to decide for themselves whether and when to become a parent.

“We expect the New Zealand government to follow through on its commitment to the people of Aotearoa, who overwhelmingly support reproductive rights, according to recent polling by Newshub.”

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act.

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion care. 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. 

A Different Take on Alabama

A Different Take on Alabama

by Terry Bellamak

Right-wing American states, especially those in the Deep South, seem to be vying to see who can trash women’s human right to bodily autonomy the most. Georgia has passed legislation that purports to criminalise Georgians who receive abortion care outside Georgia. Ohio has legislators who think ectopic pregnancies do not require abortion care because the embryo can be relocated to the uterus (which is impossible, and an illustration why legislators should not try to practice medicine). Now Alabama wants to require rape and incest victims to carry their abusers’ children.

Whenever the New Zealand media publishes a story about the US returning to the Dark Ages, there are always comments congratulating ourselves that such things will never happen here, because we are a secular society, and our extremist anti-choice busybodies are few in number.

That may be, but it’s not what will save us from the States’ fate.

Travesties like rolling back basic human rights for women are part of a long game that the American right wing has been playing for many years. Targeted regulations to put abortion providers out of business are only the most obvious of their tactics. Greater damage has come from attacks on democracy itself.

Tactics like gerrymandering, that is, state legislators drawing electoral boundaries to maximise safe Republican seats, have resulted in perpetual Republican majorities in many state legislatures. The US Senate dismantled a long-established constitutional convention by refusing to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, which directly resulted in stacking the Supreme Court with right-wing activist justices during the Trump administration. Those justices have banded together to trash the common law convention of stare decisis, that is, respect for the court’s previous decisions.

Anti-abortion legislation like Alabama’s is intended to eventually end up in the hands of the Supreme Court. Given the composition of the court, anti-choice right-wingers have every reason to expect Roe v Wade will be struck down, even though the majority of Americans support reproductive rights.

To make abortion illegal, they are willing to thwart the will of the majority. That they are able to do so is the result of years spent undermining democratic institutions. That is the American tragedy we are seeing today.

MMP keeps Parliament accountable to voters. But it’s not enough. We need to hold MPs accountable between elections by letting them know what’s on our minds, and what we expect of them. We must be willing to use our two votes to discipline parties that fail to keep their promises.

If we New Zealanders want to keep our democracy safe, we need to tend it properly. It needs our critical thinking, our participation, and our vigilance.