ROE V WADE REVERSAL: AN ASSAULT ON RIGHTS

On Friday, 24 June 2022 (local time), millions of United States citizens lost the right to control their bodies and make decisions affecting their lives, families, and futures. The US Supreme Court reached a majority decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion care. The United States joins Poland, El Salvador, and Nicaragua in recent reversals of abortion rights.

 ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa joins reproductive health and rights organisations around the world in expressing grave concerns. ALRANZ President and sexual and reproductive health researcher Dr Tracy Morison stated, “This decision makes no legal or public health sense; it simply makes reproductive rights uneven across the United States. Restrictive laws are associated with more unsafe abortions; globally, the leading cause of avoidable pregnancy-related deaths”. 

 Experts warn that the Supreme Court’s judgement will cause wide-ranging individual and social harm, highlighting that countries where abortion is heavily restricted or banned fare far worse on health, social, and economic indicators than those allowing choice. Morison concurs. “This judgement will undoubtedly harm and place an undue burden on individuals seeking an abortion,” she said. “Along with poor health outcomes, there are likely to be negative social and economic effects too. We can expect to see widening social inequality because those from marginalised groups struggle most to access abortion. There are potential negative consequences for gender equity. Reducing women’s reproductive choices affects their education, employment, and earning potential, with knock-on effects for their families, communities, and wider society. There are also worries about LGBTQ health and recently gained rights”.

 Reproductive health experts are also concerned about global repercussions, as anti-choice groups elsewhere are emboldened to reverse hard-won gains. ALRANZ shares this concern and views the overturning of Roe v Wade as an assault on reproductive rights, human rights, and democracy, not only within the United States but the world over.

 As for Aotearoa New Zealand, ALRANZ has pointed to worrying remarks made by members of the opposition party and urges Kiwis to remain vigilant regarding our new-won freedoms. The organisation will continue to monitor the situation and advocate for the right to choose. 

ALRANZ condemns potential overturning of Roe v Wade in United States

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa is deeply disturbed by the leaked draft opinion of the United States Supreme Court that purports to overturn the constitutional right to abortion. Abortion is a fundamental human right and, if the leak is accurate, the decision will jeopardise millions of Americans’ access to necessary reproductive healthcare.  

 

Despite being profoundly disappointed, ALRANZ is not surprised. ALRANZ spokesperson Ella Shepherd said “women in America have been warning us of this trend for years. This decision would be the culmination of decades of systematic efforts to erode women’s reproductive rights. The decision fails and endangers pregnant people in America”.

 

Striking down Roe v Wade would be a significant injustice falling hardest on those already struggling to access reproductive healthcare, including abortion. Shepherd continued “the overturning of a nearly-50 year old precedent is a stark reminder that women’s rights and reproductive rights more broadly are vulnerable to erosion”.

 

“Even though New Zealand legalised abortion in 2020, we must remain vigilant to ensure the right to abortion is preserved and abortion is accessible in Aotearoa. The United States has demonstrated that public opinion being overwhelming in support of legal abortion is not sufficient to protect the right”.

 

ALRANZ would remind everyone that abortion remains legal in all 50 states until the decision is formally released. For those who wish to show support, ALRANZ recommends donating to an abortion access funds in states such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi where abortion is already restricted.

 

 

Passage of Safe Areas Amendment Bill at third reading welcomed by ALRANZ

Passage of Safe Areas Amendment Bill at third reading welcomed by ALRANZ

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa welcomes the passing of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill 2020 at its third and final reading today. The Bill passed with overwhelming cross-party support. ALRANZ believes this reflects the view of the majority of New Zealanders who believe women should be able to access healthcare services without being harassed.

ALRANZ would like to thank all those MPs who worked on the Bill, spoke in favour of it, and who voted for it at the third reading. In particular ALRANZ would like to thank Louisa Wall for introducing this Bill and being such a strong advocate for abortion rights in Aotearoa.

ALRANZ President Tracy Morison said “women and pregnant peoples’ bodies are constantly policed, and it is encouraging that this bill rejects this in favour of restoring women’s dignity and privacy when accessing abortion care”.

“This legislation will ensure that people are able to exercise their fundamental right to healthcare and are able to choose whether or not to end a pregnancy. This is the definition of reproductive justice”.

The passage of this bill will also protect healthcare providers from obstruction, intimidation and threats of violence when accessing their place of work.

ALRANZ hopes that the Ministry of Health creates safe areas in a timely fashion to ensure that people seeking abortion healthcare in Aotearoa have unimpeded access to the services they require.  

 

National Abortion Telehealth Service a step toward equitable reproductive healthcare

File:Abortion pill.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Early medical abortion involves using two medications to end a pregnancy – mifepristone and misoprostol. (Image: VAlaSiurua via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa commends the Ministry of Health’s plan for a funded national abortion telehealth service as a significant step toward expanding access to abortion care.

 

 

“This service will address some of the current inequities in abortion access, especially for those who have to travel long distances. As seen during the pandemic, abortion telehealth helps ensure timely care and reduces burdens of cost, travel, and time,” says ALRANZ spokesperson Dr Tracy Morison. The service will help reduce gaps in reproductive healthcare for low-income, Māori, Pacifica, and disabled people.

 

 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, self-managed telemedicine abortion has increased globally. It has been demonstrated to be as safe and effective as when conducted in person in a medical facility. New Zealand’s service will provide consultations and medications for early medical abortions along with related services, including consultations, information, referrals, counselling, and after-care support.

 

 

In addition to helping reduce access barriers, telehealth abortion services provide consumers with privacy. Although support for abortion law reform is widespread, stigma persists. Morison says telehealth services allow consumers to avoid harassment, conscientious objection, or disclosing their choice if it is unsafe to do so.

 

 

ALRANZ applauds the national abortion telehealth service’s aim of providing free and flexible options and consumer-driven pathways. This initiative helps promote equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare for all New Zealanders.

 

Safe areas second reading a win for abortion care in Aotearoa

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa welcomes the passing of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill 2020 at its second reading this morning. The strong cross-party support for the bill is particularly pleasing, with a 108-12 result in favour of passage.

Whilst ALRANZ supports the creation of safe areas, we acknowledge the Bill in its current form is not perfect. ALRANZ Executive Member Jacqueline Cavanagh said, “the proposed process for the establishment of safe areas is cumbersome and will cause undue delays”.

“ALRANZ intends to advocate for safe area restrictions applying to all premises where abortion healthcare is provided immediately from assent. It is unconscionable for consumers and providers of abortion healthcare to be exposed to potential harm due to unnecessary red tape.” 

ALRANZ would also like to remind the 12 MPs that voted against the second reading of this Bill that they are not voting on whether they support safe and legal abortion. The issue is whether abortion patients and providers should be protected from intimidation and the real threat of violence, not dissimilar from the threats those MPs have seen outside Parliament this week.

We urge these 12 MPs to reconsider their position and vote yes on the Bill in it’s the third reading. The passage of the Bill will demonstrate that Aotearoa is willing to protect consumers and providers of vital healthcare services.

ALRANZ Executive Member Jacqueline Cavanagh

Oral arguments on Mississippi abortion ban a dark day for women everywhere

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa deplores the apparent rolling back of the fundamental human right to bodily autonomy in the United States.

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa Executive Committee member Ella Shepherd said the arguments run in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization show a court “willing to control a woman’s most personal decisions about her body and her family”.

While devastating for American women, the likely outcome of Dobbs also demonstrates why Aotearoa cannot afford to become complacent.

Shepherd notes “this is a world where some countries remain steadfast in their attempts to erode and control reproductive freedoms. The arguments in Dobbs show how settled political realities can fall to partisan politics.”

In New Zealand, it is promising to see last year abortion was removed from the Crimes Act in a 68-51 majority vote. However, one of our two major parties is led by someone who still considers people who receive abortion care to be murderers.

Now more than ever it is important that Aotearoa continues to protect abortion rights and provide safe access to abortion care. ALRANZ denounces the path being taken by the Supreme Court in the United States and will remain vigilant to ensure a similar path is not taken in Aotearoa.