NHS Report on Women’s Health and NZ Law Reform

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has released a report on the state of women’s health in the UK. The report calls for the NHS to take a strategic approach to prevent disease and promote wellness across people’s lifespans.

ALRANZ notes the report recommends measures the NZ Ministry of Health should consider when implementing new abortion law reform legislation, should it pass.

“The report notes that controlling one’s own fertility is a key factor in promoting good health. It calls for easy access to contraception, abortion, and fertility treatment so that pregnancy occurs if and when someone wishes to be pregnant,” said ALRANZ National president, Terry Bellamak.

“The report calls for emergency contraception and oral contraception to be made available on pharmacy store shelves for purchase, and for free over the counter, with no random pharmacist consultation. That sounds like a good start.”

With respect to abortion, the report calls upon the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to make teaching abortion skills part of its core curriculum. ALRANZ believes the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) should follow RCOG’s lead.

“The report recommends a telemedicine service for assessment of those who wish to receive early medical abortions, with the drugs made available at local pharmacies. It also recommends patients be allowed to take both sets of pills at home. This would be a huge benefit in New Zealand because of the long distances people in remote areas need to travel to access health care. Distance is a huge driver of inequity in our current system. We hope the Ministry of Health takes up the idea,” said Bellamak

“We note the report also calls for people to able to access abortion without harassment. Current proposals in the Abortion Legislation Bill around establishing safe areas are ridiculously cumbersome, because they require a separate Order in Council for every clinic that needs protection. Which, let’s face it, is all of them.

“We hope the Abortion Legislation Select Committee and the Ministry of Health consider the report carefully.”

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

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

Abortion Decriminalised in Northern Ireland

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa congratulates Northern Ireland for decriminalising abortion.

“Northern Ireland had some of the most punitive and restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Now, they finally have the same laws as the rest of the United Kingdom,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

In July, the UK Parliament voted to extend abortion and same-sex marriage laws to Northern Ireland if its devolved government was not restored by 21 October. Unionist parties tried, but were unable to reconvene today when nationalist parties left the chamber.

“This was a long time coming for Northern Ireland. Some activists in the North said they felt a bit left behind by changes in the Republic of Ireland. But now their laws are like the UK’s – much more functional and patient-friendly than the Republic’s,” said Bellamak.

“Abortion will no longer be a criminal offence. Northern Ireland’s abortion laws will finally exit the Victorian era. The activists who have been working to make this happen for many thankless years have a lot to be proud of today.

“Now both countries on the Emerald Isle have better, more modern, and more functional laws than New Zealand. We really need to get on with law reform.”

The New Zealand government has presented a reform bill to select committee.

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

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

COGS Funds Anti-abortion Counselling

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa condemned Internal Affairs’ funding of non-professional anti-abortion ‘counselling’, as reported on RNZ this morning.

“How does influencing a private person’s private medical decisions ‘benefit the community’? This is wrong on so many levels,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“If the rules say COGS grants should not be given for services that duplicate government services, why are these anti-abortion ‘counselling’ groups being funded?

“How many other groups have missed out on funding that would have actually helped people in their communities because the money went to extremist busybodies?

“Pre- and post-abortion counselling, provided by professional, unbiased counsellors, is already available through DHB’s. On that basis alone, these grants should not have been made. But the report says these grants are funding untrained, unprofessional, ‘counselling’ by people with an ax to grind.

“How can we trust them to provide unbiased counselling when the purpose of their organisation is to convince individuals not to access abortion care? The report makes quite clear just how ‘unbiased’ the counselling people receive from these groups is likely to be.

“COGS should not be funding this. They should put the money toward services that benefit the whole community, rather than just a narrow group of people who want to co-opt other people’s decisions about their pregnancies.”

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

Movement on Abortion Law Reform

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa welcomes the news that the government has finalised a draft abortion law reform bill. The bill goes before the legislative Cabinet committee today. It is expected to progress easily.

“It’s great to finally see some movement in this space, although we won’t know how good the draft bill is for people seeking abortion care until we actually see it,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“It’s also more of a disappointment than a surprise to discover New Zealand First has been responsible for blocking the bill. We understand some members of that caucus are quite pragmatic and well-informed on reproductive issues, others not so much.”
ALRANZ also applauds Justice Minister Andrew Little’s recruitment of Amy Adams to build understanding and support for abortion law reform in National’s caucus.

“That particular job really requires someone with patience, fortitude, and mana. Amy Adams is a great choice,” said Bellamak.

“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 government.

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.

March and Demonstration to Demand Abortion Law Reform

Victoria University Feminist Organisation and ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa, in conjunction with the VUW Feminist Law Students, Organise Aotearoa, Fem Force, and with the support of VUW Student Association announced they are sponsoring a march and demonstration in support of reproductive rights in Wellington on 23 July 2019 from 11 am to 1:30 pm.

“We wanted to show solidarity with Alabama, whose legislature recently voted to criminalise abortion care and make it inaccessible,” said Tara O’Sullivan, co-president of the Victoria University Feminist Organisation.

“Abortion laws in New Zealand are currently a disgrace. Instead of allowing people to decide their own fate, they require people to beg the approval of two random certifying consultants in order to get abortion care. Abortion is still in the Crimes Act, which perpetuates the stigma around abortion care.”

VUWSA president Tamatha Paul said, “New Zealand law does not respect the bodily autonomy of pregnant people. Abortion care is health care. We support the Law Commission’s Model A, which makes abortion care a matter between a person and their doctor, like every other kind of health care. It is the only option that respects women’s sovereignty over their own bodies.”

“Everyone deserves the freedom to decide for themselves whether and when to become a parent,” added Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

The march will end at Parliament, where the crowd will hear speeches from Dame Margaret Sparrow, Jackie Edmonds of Family Planning, Terry Bellamak of ALRANZ, Tamatha Paul of VUWSA, and Jan Logie, Green MP and associate justice minister.

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.