ALRANZ acknowledges Justice Minister Little’s announcement this afternoon of an upcoming Law Commission review of New Zealand’s abortion laws, and hopes the effort will produce real reform.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak said abortion law reform has been a long time coming, and the Law Commission needs to get it right.

“The Law Commission has the opportunity to study international best practice for ensuring safe and legal abortion. We call upon the Law Commission to do its homework, and make sure any proposed reforms are backed by peer-reviewed evidence.”

ALRANZ notes the United Nations has repeatedly called for New Zealand to honour its international commitments as a signatory of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women by reforming its archaic abortion laws.

“New Zealand’s current legal framework was created to make abortion difficult to access, and it has succeeded. Abortion seekers must engage in a time-consuming box-ticking exercise in order to access health care. Our laws do not reflect current best medical practice. After reform, the legal framework must facilitate health consumers’ access to abortion,” said Bellamak.

“Actually improving access will be the job of the Ministry of Health, which should take steps to design a better delivery system for reproductive health care now, while they have the time to do it right.

“The bottom line is: trust pregnant people to make the best decisions they can, for themselves and their families.”

Under New Zealand’s 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.

Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.