Good news! The early medication abortion service at Family Planning’s Tauranga clinic is to stay open, thanks to a ruling in the High Court yesterday (1 Oct.), which came four months after the anti-abortion group Right to Life made its case that the licence for the clinic was unlawful.
Here are some useful links:
• A .pdf of the High Court decision is here.
• Family Planning’s media release.
• Coverage in NZ Herald and Radio New Zealand.
• Some background on the case, including a post by ALRANZ president Terry Bellamak, Making Abortion Dearer, and Alison McCulloch, Abortion Access Goes Back to Court.
And here’s ALRANZ’s media release:
Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand
2 October 2015 Media Release
ALRANZ APPLAUDS COURT RULING ON TAURANGA CLINIC
The Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand today applauded the High Court decision allowing the Family Planning Clinic in Tauranga to continue providing medical abortions.
Yesterday’s judgment came four months after the challenge to Family Planning’s licence by the anti-abortion group Right to Life was heard in the court, and effectively ruled the licence is lawful. In its decision, the High Court found that the usual rules of statutory interpretation apply, meaning the law is taken to evolve to cover situations that may not have existed when it was written.
Early medical abortion did not exist when the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977 was passed. The court’s decision allows the Abortion Supervisory Committee to take into account how safe early medical abortion is.
“We are delighted that the pioneering Tauranga Family Planning clinic will be able to continue its work, and would like to see this model expanded to other regions that have little or no access to services,” ALRANZ president Terry Bellamak said. “But pregnant people still have to jump through the usual paternalistic hoops to access the health care they need.”
“As long as Parliament continues to turn a blind eye to the Rube Goldberg abortion laws in New Zealand, groups like Right to Life that believe bodily autonomy and consent do not apply to pregnant people will continue to find ways of challenging in the old legal regime,” she said.
“The Government will continue to spend money defending an obsolete, dysfunctional legal regime, DHBs will continue to waste money administering unnecessary regulations and funding unnecessary consultations to prove the boxes have been ticked. And pregnant people will continue to waste time and money jumping through hoops,” Ms. Bellamak said.
ALRANZ calls upon Parliament to end the farce and finally bring New Zealand’s abortion law into the 21st century.
For more information, contact:
mob: 021 082-76474
ALRANZ (Abortion Law Reform Assoc NZ)
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ABORTION LAW REFORM ASSOCIATION OF NEW ZEALAND
24 June 2015 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANTI-ABORTION GROUP OWES $72,500 IN 2012 COURT CASE
The anti-abortion group in the middle of legal action aimed at shutting down Family Planning’s early medication abortion service in Tauranga still owes the government $72,500 in court costs over its previous case, information just released under the Official Information Act reveals.
Information issued on Tuesday by the Crown Law Office shows that the anti-choice group Right to Life owes the money in Court of Appeal and High Court costs in relation to its seven-year case against the Abortion Supervisory Committee, which it eventually lost in the Supreme Court in 2012, the newly elected president of ALRANZ (Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand), Terry Bellamak, said today.
“Our outdated criminalised abortion laws invite these kinds of cases,” Ms. Bellamak said. “And the government’s failure to recover what it is owed three years after the end of Right to Life’s last case certainly doesn’t help discourage them.”
Ms. Bellamak said that both the 2012 case and the current legal action were aimed at exploiting New Zealand’s 38-year-old abortion laws, which can’t accommodate either modern medicine or women’s reproductive rights.
ALRANZ Secretary, Annabel Henderson Morrell voiced dismay that the government has taken so long to recover money in a case that likely cost taxpayers at least 10 times the amount owed by Right to Life.
“The Abortion Supervisory Committee told us in 2012 it had spent nearly half a million dollars defending itself in that case,” she said, “It’s appalling they had to resort to that. That funding could’ve been used for far more beneficial outcomes such as increased resourcing for comprehensive sexuality education in schools, or wider subsidisation of contraceptive options,” she said.
In its Official Information Act response, Crown Law wrote that it “is continuing to pursue payment of that amount and has most recently advised RTL that it must pay costs before 31 July 2015.”
A ruling is pending from the High Court in Right to Life’s current case, which challenges the Abortion Supervisory Committee’s granting of a licence for Family Planning to provide early medication abortions at its Tauranga clinic.
A timeline of the 7-year court case that ended in 2012 is here: http://www.alranz.org/takeaction/factsheets/RTLVASC.html
Click this link for a .pdf of the OIA Letter (Address of recipient redacted by ALRANZ): Crown_Law_23_June_2015.