ALRANZ notes with relief the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, having wasted taxpayer money on a year-long discovery process at the behest of an anti-reproductive rights campaigner who came to Parliament with seven signatures on a petition and one faithful friend in Chester Borrows, has dropped the matter without doing any harm to teenagers with abusive families. It could have been much worse. They could have felt obligated to justify the time and expense by changing the one aspect of our antiquated and obnoxious legal process around abortion that works well for patients. Thankfully, they did not.
A few days ago I came across a heartbreaking plea from a teen in Georgia who was forced to crowd-fund the legal process she needed to bypass parental notification requirements. Research in the states has shown teens who fear to tell their parents have an accurate understanding of the risks they face. Thankfully, New Zealand teens will be spared this.
The committee heard about spurious research alleging women who have abortions suffer mental harm. It also heard criticism of that research, and learned about more recent and respected peer-reviewed research that demonstrates women suffer no mental harm from abortion, but sometimes experience stress due to abortion stigma. Thankfully, the committee made its decision based on evidence.
All told, there is much to be thankful for.
But abortion is still treated as though there were something wrong with women deciding for themselves whether or not they will carry a pregnancy. Women are still treated as minors requiring the approval of certifying consultants in order to exercise their own will over their own flesh. New Zealand still fails to live up to its obligations under CEDAW, to which it is a signatory, a convention that deems abortion a human right.
It could be worse. But it needs to be better.