Abortion Law Reform: Achieved.

In March of 2020, supporters of reproductive rights in Aotearoa had an historic victory. Parliament voted to reform our abortion legislation to recognise a pregnant person’s right to bodily autonomy up to 20 weeks, and to streamline abortion care, bringing it more into line with international best practice. This is a change ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa has been working towards for over four decades.

These changes are a huge step forward for New Zealand. Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act 1961. Pregnant people will be able to refer themselves to an abortion service without having to go through their GP as a 

 

gatekeeper. Early medical abortions can be completed at home. The Director-General of Health will be responsible for ensuring equitable access to abortion care and emergency contraception across the country.

The bill is not perfect. Health practitioners will still be allowed to refuse contraception without warning or notice. Safe areas did not make it into the bill, which may dissuade health practitioners from providing abortion care in small communities.

But the perfect should not be the enemy of good. We will continue fighting for improvements to our law.

The new law has made major changes to the Crimes Act 1961, and the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977.

The idea was to treat abortion as a health matter rather than a criminal matter. The new law represents a giant leap forward from where we were. But does it really treat abortion as a health matter like any other?

We don’t think so.