ALRANZ Welcomes Promise of Law Reform Under Labour

ALRANZ welcomes the announcement this afternoon of a Labour-led coalition forming the next government. During the campaign, Labour leader, now Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern pledged to decriminalise abortion in New Zealand, saying pregnant people should have access to abortion as a matter of right.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak said abortion law reform has been a long time coming.

“Pregnant people in New Zealand have suffered under our ridiculous abortion bureaucracy for too long. After forty years of scrambling to get the approval of certifying consultants, and being forced to lie about the fragility of their mental health so they can access the medical care they need, finally Kiwis can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Abortion is a safe medical procedure that one in four Kiwi women access at some point in their reproductive lives. Abortion is health care. It has never belonged in the Crimes Act. We look forward to the coming discussion on reforming the law.

“It is vital Parliament carries out the task of abortion law reform in a manner that is evidence-based and patient-focused.”

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 on request.

Waitemata DHB Refuses Second Woman’s Abortion

The NZ Herald has revealed the Waitemata DHB refused another pregnant woman an abortion at 18 weeks, suggesting she travel to Australia for an abortion at her own expense instead. This is the second time the Waitemata DHB has refused an abortion without allowing the patient to meet with certifying consultants in the last 12 weeks.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak questioned whether the DHB was meeting acceptable standards for natural justice.

“Apparently, the DHB decided Erica was not eligible for an abortion without her meeting with or even speaking to any certifying consultants. Nor did the DHB make any inquiries into her mental health. I question whether the DHB has met its duty of care to Erica,” she remarked.

“This is the second instance we have learned of in past weeks where the Waitemata DHB has refused an abortion to a pregnant woman with valid claims of mental distress from an unwanted pregnancy. Both Erica and Kate, the woman whose story was told in the Wireless on 18 September 2017, may well have satisfied the criteria for an abortion under 20 weeks gestation under the mental health ground. But apparently the DHB never gave them a chance to put their case.

“ALRANZ wrote to the Abortion Supervisory Committee on 3 October 2017, in response to Kate’s case, requesting clarification on whether the Waitemata DHB’s policy around abortion meets standards of natural justice. The ASC has a responsibility to supervise the provision of abortion in New Zealand. ALRANZ would like to know whether the ASC is satisfied with the Waitemata DHB’s process for determining whether people are eligible for abortion care. The DHB is making decisions that will affect people’s lives forever.”

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 on request.

 

Pro-choice Certifying Consultant Keeps Her Job

The Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) has decided Dr Helen Paterson can keep her appointment as a certifying consultant in spite of her pro-choice views on abortion.

In July, Dr Paterson informed the ASC she believed abortion should be a matter between a woman and her doctor. The Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 directs the ASC to regard such views as incompatible with the Act.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak welcomed the ASC’s decision not to dismiss Dr Paterson.

“Certifying consultants have freedom of thought just like everyone else in New Zealand,” she said.

“The Bill of Rights Act guarantees everyone freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. The Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethical belief and political opinion. The ASC rightly recognised sacking a certifying consultant on those grounds would violate their human rights.

“Certifying consultants need no longer hide their views for fear of losing their appointments.”

Under our 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.

Waitemata DHB Denies Woman Abortion

The Wireless has revealed an Auckland woman says a North Shore hospital counselor prevented her from accessing abortion by refusing to refer her to see certifying consultants. The woman was 18 weeks pregnant. She said she was so traumatised she considered suicide.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak questioned the legal basis for the DHB’s actions.

“The law makes a distinction between abortions before 20 weeks and after. On what legal basis does the Waitemata DHB unilaterally restrict North Shore women to abortions under 18 weeks?” she asked.

“This case demonstrates how vulnerable a woman’s access to abortion is under the current legal regime that the government has somehow called ‘broadly satisfactory’.

“If DHB’s are allowed to interpret the law inconsistently, how will people who need an abortion know what their rights actually are?

“One of the purposes of having law is to make the rules of society predictable. This arbitrariness in the implementation of abortion law puts that kind of benign predictability out of reach. It makes a mockery of the rule of law.

“Where is the Abortion Supervisory Committee? What are they doing about these unjust inconsistencies?”

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 on request.

Labour Party Supports Decriminalisation of Abortion

Labour Party Leader Jacinda Ardern called for the decriminalisation of abortion in the second leaders’ debate of the 2017 election season.

When debate moderator Paddy Gower asked if Ardern would take abortion out of the Crimes Act, she answered unequivocally, “Yes.” The audience gave her an enthusiastic ovation.

She said “It shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act,” and “People need to be able to make their own decision.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak welcomed Ardern’s commitment to finally reforming New Zealand’s abortion laws.

“New Zealanders have waited forty years to hear a leader on the threshold of the Prime Minister’s office acknowledge our abortion bureaucracy is not fit for purpose,” she said.

“Our laws breach people’s human rights by forcing them to lie to get the health care they need.

“Ardern is right. Those who oppose abortion are free not to choose it. Those who need abortion should be able to access it freely, without having to get the approval of two certifying consultants.”

Prime Minister Bill English, a conservative Catholic, maintained his view that New Zealand’s abortion laws are working and should not be changed.

Under our 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.

Prime Minister Acknowledges Most Kiwis Support Abortion Access

Prime Minister Bill English acknowledged that most New Zealanders support the right to access abortion at a Family First event on Friday.

“Most people have a different view than I do about abortion. That’s not just reflected in the law, but sort of the practice of it,” said English.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak welcomed the Prime Minister’s acceptance that New Zealanders do not agree with his view on abortion.

“Mr English is correct that most New Zealanders support the right of pregnant people to access abortion without let or hindrance. The results of the poll ALRANZ took earlier in the year showed as much.

“But Mr English’s insistence on maintaining the status quo, an abortion bureaucracy that wastes time and money while legally preventing doctors from providing the highest standard of care for New Zealanders, is difficult to comprehend.

“The current system discriminates against people who seek abortion by making them get the approval of two certifying consultants in order to access health care. No one seeking any other health care procedure is required to do this.

“How does Mr English justify ruling out law reform when most New Zealanders want a system that works well for everyone, without wasting patients’ time and taxpayers’ money?”

Under our 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.