ALRANZ congratulates the Republic of Ireland on making abortion available to women and pregnant people legally in their own country.
“Pregnant people can now start the process to access abortion in Ireland,” said Terry Bellamak, National president of ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa.
“It marks a huge step forward for the people of Ireland, one we could scarcely have foreseen back in 2012, when Savita Halappanavar died from being denied a necessary abortion in Galway.
“But someone who starts the process today will not be able to get an abortion for three days, because of the waiting period.
“Activists in Ireland have said the three-day waiting period was a sop to the anti-choice side, because there is no medical justification for it. That sounds right, and it’s hard to see what it has accomplished, except to make abortion more difficult to access, and to increase the chances of someone running out of time.
“The New Zealand Law Commission’s report has rubbished the idea of waiting periods here. It seems like a non-issue in New Zealand, but the experience in Ireland shows we need to make sure it stays that way.”
The three-day waiting period has been criticised as “demeaning” because it “makes presumptions about women’s ability to make decisions about their own healthcare”.
Research in 2016 in the USA found a higher level of decisional certainty for people choosing abortion than for those choosing other medical procedures.
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 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.
Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion care on request.
by Terry Bellamak
2018 was a big, amazing year for ALRANZ.
We all saw Ireland amend their constitution to allow the Oireachtas to legislate to allow abortion. We got a preview of terrible amendments to watch out for as we progress our own law reform process, like pointless waiting periods and restrictive time limits.
We saw Queensland legalise abortion, and got a preview of some good ideas to replicate here, like a government-sponsored online fact checker, to keep the debate fact-based.
We saw Argentina debate a bill liberalising abortion, saw pro-choice activists come closer to success than anyone expected, and saw them make plans to come roaring back in the New Year for another try.
We saw ALRANZ start a human rights complaint with the Human Rights Commission, saying our abortion laws discriminate against women and those who are or can be pregnant. Our case will go before the Human Right Review Tribunal in due course.
We saw the Law Commission deliver a report on abortion law reform that was not perfect, but was better than just about anybody expected.
We saw the Minister of Justice choose the supposed path of least resistance when he came out in favour of Model C, which has a time limit of 22 weeks, beyond which a pregnant person must seek permission to exercise sovereignty over their own body.
We saw polls that show a clear, growing majority of New Zealanders support abortion on request.
2019 will need all our efforts to ensure New Zealanders get the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to become parents.
If we don’t make law reform happen now, we will likely wait a long time for another chance.
First up will be the Minister of Justice’s presentation of the Law Commission report to Cabinet, possibly with draft legislation, in January or February.
A bill will undoubtedly make it to select committee. That’s where the rubber hits the road for us. We will need everyone’s help to make the committee aware of the problems with the current law, and the defects of the less-desirable options from the Law Commission report.
There are some of you who have stories to tell the select committee. I hope you will seriously consider telling them, in a written submission or in person at an open or closed meeting of the select committee.
If anyone has any questions about that, or might prefer to tell their story at a closed meeting, please contact us here at ALRANZ – we are happy to mediate to whatever extent we can, and preserve your anonymity while we (and you) gather information upon which to base your decision whether or not to speak.
We hope the final vote will be in 2019.
Thanks so much for all your support over the past year. Here’s to victory in 2019!
Recently, the ALRANZ Executive Committee received questions regarding where we stand on the inclusion of transgender and non-binary people in reproductive rights activism.
With this in mind, we’re happy to clarify that our policy is one of inclusiveness of trans and non-binary people in all our events, advocacy and outreach.
We advocate for the right for anyone who can get pregnant to have safe and straightforward access to abortion should they want it. We think it’s possible to hold all these things true, that: abortion is primarily a women’s issue, not all women can get pregnant, and not all people who might need an abortion are women. We try and reflect this in our language, which aims both to centre women and to be inclusive of our trans and non-binary community.
The fight for reproductive health rights is one that primarily affects women, but sexual and reproductive rights are human rights, and do not need to come at the cost of alienating other marginalised groups.
We have also been asked specifically by people who do not share this kaupapa whether they will be excluded from our events based on their beliefs.
Our answer is this: If you want to bring a placard with a uterus to an event ALRANZ is hosting or involved with, go for it. But if you want to come to an event specifically to make trans folk feel uncomfortable or to promote a purposefully exclusive idea about what being a woman should involve, please stay home.
The pro-choice position is predicated on the idea that a pregnant person knows the most about their individual situation and knows what is best for them, when/if to involve others, and whom to involve. We reject the idea that the state (or a doctor, politician, priest, or whoever) understands someone’s lived experience better than they do, and is therefore more qualified to make decisions for them.
We also apply this principle to people’s gender identity; no one has the right to police the validity of another person’s experience.
Abortion is just one aspect of choice and doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We advocate for everyone to be free to choose whether and when to become a parent, but more fundamentally, to also freely and safely express their sexuality. To be defined by our beliefs, ideas, and actions instead of our bodies. This is a human right, no matter what’s in your pants.
Many trans and non-binary people have historically shown up for the pro-choice cause. We are thankful for this solidarity, and we are here to return it.
The ALRANZ Executive Committee:
Dr Morgan Healey
Nobody should be denied the right to make informed choices about our health, our bodies, and how we plan our families, but in New Zealand, abortion continues to remain a criminal offence. Under our current law, we need two doctors to verify that continuing a pregnancy would be harmful to our health or mental health in order to be granted an abortion. These hurdles cause unnecessary stress and frustration for countless women and people seeking to end their pregnancy.
Unplanned pregnancies can result in job losses, exclusion from work and educational institutions, financial strain, and judgement from the community and family. The expectation to make these sacrifices, carry a pregnancy to term, and take on more duties as a parent, falls primarily on women.
The stigma towards abortion and discrimination against people with unplanned pregnancies cannot end while abortion remains in the Crimes Act. Access to abortion must not rely on our capacity to jump through hoops or lie about or health. Doctors and governments do not have the right to control our bodies – only we do!
On the 5th of December, we will march from Frank Kitts Park to Parliament. Join us as we stand before Parliament to demand abortion be removed from the Crimes Act, and demand free, safe, widely-accessible, publicly funded access to abortions for all who need them.
Confirmed Musical Acts:
Siobhan Leilani – NahBo
Please sign ALRANZ‘s petition: https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petitions/reform-our-abortion-law
Bigotry of any kind including transphobia, racism, homophobia, and ableism will not be condoned in this event page or at the march.