At the NCW/Zonta Annual Women’s Debate this year, abortion was a sensation. Every single candidate in the place proclaimed herself to be pro-choice.
Even Nicola Willis of the National Party, who said she was pro-choice, then went on the promise she would not lift a finger to achieve abortion law reform.
Even Mai Reedy-Taare of the Maori Party, who said she was pro-choice, but that abortion didn’t really matter to Maori because whangai adoption meant Maori didn’t need abortion. Evidence suggests she is wrong about that: a higher proportion of Maori get abortions than Pakeha (see the 2016 abortion stats), and Maori support abortion on request at similar rates to Pakeha (see the poll results).
Even Tracy Martin of NZ First, who said she was pro-choice, but did not support decriminalising abortion because keeping abortion in the Crimes Act makes it safer for women.
For those of us whose heads just exploded, let’s look at that.
Abortion is the only health care procedure to feature in the Crimes Act as a crime. Other procedures like, say, appendectomy, are not in the Crimes Act and yet they somehow remain safe.
Abortion is health care people seek out even when it is illegal and not readily accessible. History demonstrates how people seek abortion in unsafe, backalley settings only when they can’t get care from safe and legal sources. Keeping abortion in the Crimes Act does nothing to keep abortion safe. Quite the opposite.
Some politicians use the pro-choice label to manufacture a bit of street cred from people who support women’s rights/ human rights in the 21st century, but do absolutely nothing to reform the law or increase people’s access to abortion.
Anyone can talk the talk, but let’s pay attention to who actually walks the walk.
We need to make abortion a normal health care procedure.
Most abortions can be a medical procedure which could be provided in general practise managed by doctors OR /and nurses.
BUT in the meantime we at least need to provide women with abortion services to the full extent our law allows.
It is appalling that DHBs are allowed to refer women to other regions for a medical abortion.
Second trimester D and E procedures need to be easy to access. At present only 3 DHBs provide them and only one is actively training practitioners.
Unfortunately, this is part of the long stalemate that is the context of abortion policy in New Zealand. The CSA Act imposes a conservative framework, but doesn’t define what an embryo or fetus is, or confers ‘personhood’ on it, but women and their doctors have learnt to navigate their way through the system, so it’s liberal practise. Added to which, the total abortion rate is falling because of better contraceptive access and possibly better comprehensive sex education and most of the older antiabortionists either are succumbing or have succumbed to illness or mortality while there are far fewer younger antichoicers being recruited by the other side.