Come to the book launch!

Come to the book launch!

You are warmly invited to the launch of

Risking Their Lives: New Zealand Abortion Stories 1900–1939
by Margaret Sparrow

at Unity Books
6pm–7.30pm, Thursday 28 September
in honour of International Safe Abortion Day.

This launch is kindly supported by ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa.

Risking Their Lives is the third book in a series recording the history of abortion in New Zealand. It fills the gap between Abortion Then and Now: New Zealand Abortion Stories from 1940 to 1980 and Rough on Women: Abortion in 19th-Century New Zealand.

Abortion has always been a fraught political issue in New Zealand, from the draconian laws of the 1860s, when most abortions were illegal and clandestine and society’s emphasis was on punishment, to the turbulent abortion rights protests of the 1970s. In the early years of the 20th century, abortion came to be recognised not just as a crime but also as a major public health problem. In response to an embarrassingly large number of deaths from septic abortion, the government in 1936 appointed a Committee of Inquiry to investigate the issues. This was a turning point in people’s attitudes to abortion and women’s reproductive health in general.

Risking Their Lives features many previously untold stories salvaged from the coroner’s reports and newspaper reports of the day. The narrative is grim, but this is an honest retelling of our past, primarily letting the stories speak for themselves. As those who fought to make abortion safer and easier for women grow older and there are fewer people who remember what it used to be like, such stories become increasingly important to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

TRAPPED returns to Wellington!

TRAPPED returns to Wellington!

Back by popular demand!

If you missed TRAPPED last time around, we’ve got you covered. Come on down to the Light House Cinema on Cuba in central Wellington to see Dawn Porter’s award-winning documentary.

The film starts at 6 pm, but we will be there earlier with nibbles and conversation. Stay afterwards for a panel discussion on reproductive rights.

We would love to see you there!


6 September 2017 6pm at the Light House Cinema on Cuba

Tickets: $20 waged, $10 unwaged

Email to reserve tickets

TRAPPED coming to Auckland!

TRAPPED coming to Auckland!

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa is proud to present the award-winning documentary TRAPPED by Dawn Porter. Come join us for the film, and stay for the panel discussion afterwards! TRAPPED tells the story of the abortion providers who fight to make reproductive rights accessible in the face of dodgy, punitive state laws. TRAPPED won the ‘Best Documentary’ category at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015.
Date/time: Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 18:30 – 21:00
Place: Stone Lecture Theatre, level 3, 9 Eden Crescent at University of Auckland School of Law
Cost: $20 waged, $10 unwaged
The film starts at 19:00, but come early for nibbles and conversation from 18:30.
Please email us at, and let us know how many tickets you would like. We will reply with payment details.
TRAPPED coming to Christchurch

TRAPPED coming to Christchurch

Kia ora Christchurch members and friends,

ALRANZ, Abortion Rights Aotearoa, invites you to a screening of Dawn Porter’s acclaimed documentary TRAPPED.

Join us from 6pm for welcome and nibbles, before the screening at 7pm.

A panel discussion after the film will explore how the situation in the States relates to New Zealand’s current criminalisation of abortion.

Tickets are $15 for general admission or $10 for unwaged/students and includes nibbles.
To book, please email and please share this event with your networks.
**If the price is problematic, we would rather you come with a koha than not come at all!**

TRAPPED Screening

TRAPPED Screening

imagesIn honour of International Safe Abortion Day, Wednesday, 28 September 2016, ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa is screening the award-winning documentary, TRAPPED.

TRAPPED tells the story of how clinics in the states are responding to new abortion restrictions that anti-choice legislators pretend are designed to protect patients from abortion providers, but in fact, exist to make abortion more expensive and harder for patients to access.

New Zealanders who have accessed abortion (that would be one in four people with uteri of childbearing age) are familiar with restrictions that lack any scientific or medical basis, but rather exist solely to make abortion more time-consuming and unpleasant. Restrictions like:

  • requiring the approval of two certifying consultants
  • requiring patients to allege grounds specified in 187A of the Crimes Act to access the procedure, usually that their mental health would be affected, even if they just don’t want to be pregnant
  • requiring patients to get ultrasounds that are not medically indicated, and counselling above and beyond what the patient wants or needs
  • requiring patients to spend weeks running around getting all the necessary bureaucratic approvals, while enduring the physical discomforts of early pregnancy like morning sickness

There is one difference between the situation in the USA and in New Zealand. In the USA these TRAP laws are a new phenomenon. But pregnant New Zealanders have been dealing with the same pointless restrictions, and getting the same pointless runaround, for almost 40 years.

Back when the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act was passed, Parliament was openly trying to discourage abortion, giving patients as little control and freedom as they could get away with while still providing an alternative to unsafe, illegal abortion. Now, most people have worked out that it is not the government’s place to force people to bear children they don’t want.

When will Parliament come to the same conclusion?


Join us at the Lighthouse Cinema in Wellington at 6pm for TRAPPED, and stay for an informal panel discussion afterwards. If you live outside Wellington and you are interested in seeing TRAPPED in your town, contact ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa at

Sept. 28: Global Day of Action in NZ


By Morgan Healey, ALRANZ President

On the 28th of September 2014, ALRANZ celebrates the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. This is a campaign that began two decades ago in Latin America and the Caribbean and has gone global, with activists around the world drawing attention to restrictive and dangerous abortion laws in their countries. This year’s focus is on stigma and challenging the shame and silence that so often accompanies abortion, even when it is legal.

As the organisers of the 28th of September, the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) in partnership with the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion and La Campaña 28 LAC, stated:

The stigma surrounding abortion is complex and pervasive, as well as produced, reproduced and reinforced at individual, community, institutional, cultural, and legal levels. Entire communities stereotype, ostracize and discriminate against individuals who need and seek abortions, as well as women human rights defenders attempting to help individuals to access this human right.


It is our job as reproductive rights and justice activists to join in the global chorus to eradicate stigma – not just today but every day. This is not necessarily an easy task. Pervasive is an apt word as stigma manifests itself in subtle and insidious ways.

One example is the act of conscientious objections, where medical professionals are allowed to refuse treatment or care as the result of their own moral objections to abortion. Too often the focus is on the medical professional and their ability to exercise their right to not perform a medical procedure that they disapprove of. But what happens to the pregnant person forced to find help and assistance elsewhere? Is their care delayed? Does it create further stress and anxiety? Does it leave them more vulnerable in an unsafe relationship or environment? And how does this reinforce stigma?

This is the crux of the stigma issue – it not only erects barriers to care but it leaves women feeling as if their choices are amoral, wrong and detrimental. They carry the weight not only of their own lived experiences and the consequence of their choices, but also the gendered expectations of societies that associate ‘womanhood’ with ‘motherhood’. Being defined by your anatomy, which is also harmful to people who do not associate their sexed body with a certain gender (i.e. those who operate outside of and challenge cisgender culture), allows for the constant surveillance and policing of their reproductive choices. Stigma happens at both the macro and micro levels, with the (re)production of discourses that shame women while ensuring they self-regulate their actions, mostly by silencing their abortion experiences.

Turning back to conscientious objection, a false dichotomy is created whereby the virtuous doctor, governed by their ‘moral’ principles is juxtaposed with the errant pregnant person. This power imbalance is important in the perpetuation of stigma and the associate of abortion with shame and silence – it allows those in professions that are often revered and looked up the ability to define the line between good and bad. It provides a legal basis for discrimination and, as Joyce Arthur and Christian Fialla have argued for dishonourable disobedience.

This is one of the reasons the My Decision project is so important and why ALRANZ has chosen to focus on it for the 2014 global day of action – it names and allows for self-identification of those who would refuse care. It is shifting the discourse from a focus on women traversing the public health sphere to search for care and instead calling on medical professionals to provide information in relation to the reproductive health care they provide. It seeks to break down the barriers pregnant people face when they look to access these services and puts the onus back onto those who would object to be open and transparent about their beliefs.

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My Decision alone will not end stigma, but it is a vital tool in the attempt to counter the impact. Please join us today in trying to dismantle abortion stigma.

If you would like to be involved in or want more information on My Decision go to

For information on the 28th of September campaign go to

Check out this media release quoting Family Planning and ALRANZ’s Morgan Healey: NZ Abortion Legislation Restrictive.