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.

Certifying Consultant Comes Out in Support of Abortion Rights

A certifying consultant, Dr Helen Paterson, has told the Abortion Supervisory Committee she now supports abortion rights, the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand says.

Dr Paterson’s disclosure challenges s 30(5) of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, which directs the Abortion Supervisory Committee not to appoint certifying consultants who believe abortion should be a matter between a patient and their doctor.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak says Dr Paterson is now a member of ALRANZ.

“The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 promises Kiwis freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

“That a government body such as the Abortion Supervisory Committee is directed by law to refuse appointment as a certifying consultant on the basis of a person’s opinion is outrageous.

“ALRANZ salutes Dr Paterson for her courage in coming forward and speaking the truth to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.

“We support her efforts, and will continue to support her in future.”

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.

Abortion Rate Decreases, and We Still Need Law Reform

The continued fall in the number of abortions in New Zealand does not change the need for law reform, the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand says.

Statistics New Zealand reports 12,823 induced abortions were performed in 2016, compared with 13,155 in 2015.

This represents a decrease in the abortion rate per 1000 women aged between 15 and 44 years, from 14.2 in 2015 to 13.5 in 2016.

“The abortion rate in New Zealand continues to fall, particularly for younger women,” ALRANZ president Terry Bellamak says.

“But abortion is still regulated as a crime, instead of being treated like all other forms of health care.

“A majority of New Zealanders support access to legal abortion in all circumstances. Our laws must be reformed to reflect that reality.

“In the run-up to September’s General Election, ALRANZ calls on all political parties to include abortion law reform in their policy platforms.”

ALRANZ would like to see abortion decriminalised and treated as a health matter between a woman and her doctor. ALRANZ believes the government should not be in the position of forcing people to continue unwanted pregnancies.

“Abortion is a health issue, not a crime. New Zealand’s archaic laws reflect a time when women were considered unfit to make decisions for themselves. Those days are gone,” Ms Bellamak says.

“The current laws require women to pretend mental illness in order to get the care they need. These laws are absurd.”

 

Facts:

12,823 abortions were performed in New Zealand, 332 (3 percent) fewer than in 2015 (13,155).

The general abortion rate was 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, down from 14.2 per 1,000 in 2015.

Women aged 20–24 years had the highest abortion rate (21 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20–24 years), down from a high of 41 in 2003.

Most abortions (64 percent) were a woman’s first abortion.

57 percent of abortions were performed before the 10th week of the pregnancy.

18 percent of known pregnancies (live births, stillbirths, and abortions) ended in an abortion.

Prime Minister’s Ignorance on Abortion Law Shows Need for Reform

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa

MEDIA RELEASE

13 March 2017

 

PRIME MINISTER’S IGNORANCE ON ABORTION LAW SHOWS NEED FOR REFORM

The Prime Minister’s support for New Zealand’s outdated abortion laws is deeply disappointing and shows how badly reform is needed, ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa says.

Bill English and Labour leader Andrew Little showed how vast the gulf between National and Labour is on abortion law reform in interviews given today.

Mr English believes abortion laws had “stood the test of time” and he confirmed he is comfortable obstructing any change to the 40-year old legal regime.

The current law frames abortion as a crime and forces pregnant people to lie that their mental or physical health is at risk if they want to end their pregnancy.

“Mr English either supports forcing people to carry pregnancies they do not want, or he wants them to go through a degrading, complicated, and expensive process,” ALRANZ President Terry Bellamak said.

“That strikes us as a strange position for a former Finance Minister.”

Meanwhile, Mr Little says abortion laws in New Zealand need to be reviewed and upgraded.

Recent polling by Curia Research, commissioned by ALRANZ, shows a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access legal abortion if the pregnant person wants one.

“Our research shows Mr English’s extreme stance does not reflect most Kiwis’ views,” Ms Bellamak says.

“ALRANZ calls upon all political parties in New Zealand to commit to supporting a Law Commission review of our laws around abortion with a view to law reform.”

ALRANZ Poll Shows NZ is Pro-Choice!

ALRANZ Poll Shows NZ is Pro-Choice!

A majority of New Zealanders support abortion on request, proving our outdated laws need urgent reform, ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa says.

The poll, conducted by Curia Market Research Limited, asked respondents whether abortion should be legal in a range of circumstances – from medical emergency threatening the mother’s life, to a desire not to have children.

In all circumstances, more than half the respondents said they thought abortion should be legal.

Under the Crimes Act 1961, abortion is only allowed in limited circumstances – including serious threat to the life of the mother or foetus, threat to her mental health, or any form of incest.

“This poll demonstrates New Zealanders support abortion in circumstances where abortion is not allowed by law,” ALRANZ President Terry Bellamak says.

“This shows the current law is out of step with New Zealanders’ views – and so is the National government.

“Prime Minister Bill English and Justice Minister Amy Adams have both said this government would not pursue abortion law reform.

“These poll results show the New Zealand public holds a very different view – and it’s time this government committed to reforming this outdated legislation.”

You can view the poll results here.

NZ Must Step Up in the Face of Irresponsible US Policy

NZ Must Step Up in the Face of Irresponsible US Policy

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa

MEDIA RELEASE

27 January 2017

NZ MUST STEP UP FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH – IN FACE OF IRRESPONSIBLE US POLICY

New Zealand should take the lead in the bid to promote women’s health around the world, after the killer blow delivered by US President Donald Trump, ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa says.

The Trump Administration has announced it will reinstate the so-called Mexico City Rule – which bars American foreign aid being given to international organisations that advocate for abortion access.

The “Global Gag Rule” also targets NGOs that provide counselling or referrals for abortion.

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa President Terry Bellamak says it is an “ill-conceived, ill-advised” policy – which could see women die because of illegal abortions or dangerous pregnancies.

The Netherlands is assembling a group of nations to restore funding to these NGOs to close the gap. Belgium has joined the effort. Ms Bellamak says New Zealand should do the same.

“Responsible developed nations like New Zealand should take the lead in counteracting this irresponsible policy of the Trump administration,” Ms Bellamak says.

Population Action International (PAI), a global family planning advocacy organisation, called the move “the beginning of the Trump-Pence administration’s agenda to punish women everywhere.”

“If NGOs affected by the rule cannot replace the funding, women needing reproductive health care in developing nations face increased mortality rates,” Ms Bellamak says.

“Many of these organisations also offer services like contraception advice and women’s health care.

“Prime Minister Bill English is on record opposing women’s right to choose abortion for themselves – but good reproductive health services like contraception reduce unwanted pregnancies.

“New Zealand needs to step up and show it is a country committed to women – wherever in the world they live.”