International Safe Abortion Day

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa lends our voice to organisations across the world to support free, safe, and legal access to abortion. Abortion is only one part of the larger framework of reproductive justice that includes the right to bodily autonomy, the choice to parent or not, and a supportive environment to care for children. 

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa President, Tracy Morison, said “abortion is healthcare, and anyone who wishes to continue or to end a pregnancy should be able to do so safely”. Abortion is a medically necessary and safe component of comprehensive reproductive medical care.

Abortion has been treated as a health issue in Aotearoa New Zealand, not a crime since March 2020. Statistics show improved access to abortion care: it is being accessed earlier allowing the option of less invasive medical abortion (pills) rather than surgery. There is also the potential for greater accessibility for rural and underserved populations though the 0800 DECIDE National Abortion Telehealth Service.

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa supports the continued expansion of abortion services to meet the diverse needs of the community and will continue to support and monitor the implementation of safe areas to reduce the harassment of those accessing abortion. 

Law reform and the right to choose was decades in the making and, as recent events in the USA have shown, this right needs to be safeguarded. Research shows that most Aotearoa New Zealanders support safe legal abortions, but a small, vocal anti-choice faction has progressed their agenda by spreading disinformation about abortion. It is imperative that the facts about abortion are broadcasted everywhere.

We call on governments and people around the world, including Aotearoa, to stand up for reproductive justice. We demand the right to safe abortion today and every day, for everyone. 

To take action on International Safe Abortion Day, we encourage people to:

  • Contact your local MP to express support for abortion access and 100%
  • funding in all aspects of providing abortion services.
  • Organise stigma-busting conversations and events.
  • Join and/or donate to pro-choice organisations
  • Know (and share) the facts on abortion and how to access abortion using
  • credible sources 
  • Support organizations providing services. Reach out to your local abortion
  • provider to express your support.
  • Elect pro-choice candidates to office.

ALRANZ welcomes good news from Kansas

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa hails the failure of a Kansas referendum that would have removed protection for abortion rights from the state’s constitution. The vote is a strong demonstration of the popularity of abortion rights in the United States of America, even in conservative states like Kansas. US polls consistently show support for reproductive rights in the 60%’s.

ALRANZ president Dr Tracy Morison said, “It is a relief to see voters pushing back successfully against anti-abortion politicians’ undemocratic attempts to restrict the fundamental human right to bodily autonomy. It looks like the US Supreme Court decision in Dobbs may have provoked a backlash.”

Abortion access in the US in the wake of the overturn of Roe v Wade has become a patchwork with different states restricting or protecting access to abortion. Kansas has been a midwestern bulwark for protection of access to abortion. In 2009 Dr George Tiller was murdered by an anti-abortion extremist while Dr Tiller was serving as an usher at his church in Wichita, Kansas. 

New Zealand reformed its abortion laws in 2020, legalising abortion up to 20 weeks as a matter of right. The Ministry of Health is in the process of implementing the law to fulfil the promise of increased access to services. 0800 DECIDE (or www.decide.org.nz) is the most comprehensive element of that effort to date.

ALRANZ urges New Zealanders to remain vigilant regarding our rights. ALRANZ believes abortion is a fundamental human right, but as we have seen in the US, a hard won right is not always guaranteed.

 

Roe v Wade Reversal: An Assault on Rights

On Friday, 24 June 2022 (local time), millions of United States citizens lost the right to control their bodies and make decisions affecting their lives, families, and futures. The US Supreme Court reached a majority decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion care. The United States joins Poland, El Salvador, and Nicaragua in recent reversals of abortion rights.

 ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa joins reproductive health and rights organisations around the world in expressing grave concerns. ALRANZ President and sexual and reproductive health researcher Dr Tracy Morison stated, “This decision makes no legal or public health sense; it simply makes reproductive rights uneven across the United States. Restrictive laws are associated with more unsafe abortions; globally, the leading cause of avoidable pregnancy-related deaths”. 

 Experts warn that the Supreme Court’s judgement will cause wide-ranging individual and social harm, highlighting that countries where abortion is heavily restricted or banned fare far worse on health, social, and economic indicators than those allowing choice. Morison concurs. “This judgement will undoubtedly harm and place an undue burden on individuals seeking an abortion,” she said. “Along with poor health outcomes, there are likely to be negative social and economic effects too. We can expect to see widening social inequality because those from marginalised groups struggle most to access abortion. There are potential negative consequences for gender equity. Reducing women’s reproductive choices affects their education, employment, and earning potential, with knock-on effects for their families, communities, and wider society. There are also worries about LGBTQ health and recently gained rights”.

 Reproductive health experts are also concerned about global repercussions, as anti-choice groups elsewhere are emboldened to reverse hard-won gains. ALRANZ shares this concern and views the overturning of Roe v Wade as an assault on reproductive rights, human rights, and democracy, not only within the United States but the world over.

 As for Aotearoa New Zealand, ALRANZ has pointed to worrying remarks made by members of the opposition party and urges Kiwis to remain vigilant regarding our new-won freedoms. The organisation will continue to monitor the situation and advocate for the right to choose. 

ALRANZ condemns potential overturning of Roe v Wade in United States

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa is deeply disturbed by the leaked draft opinion of the United States Supreme Court that purports to overturn the constitutional right to abortion. Abortion is a fundamental human right and, if the leak is accurate, the decision will jeopardise millions of Americans’ access to necessary reproductive healthcare.  

 

Despite being profoundly disappointed, ALRANZ is not surprised. ALRANZ spokesperson Ella Shepherd said “women in America have been warning us of this trend for years. This decision would be the culmination of decades of systematic efforts to erode women’s reproductive rights. The decision fails and endangers pregnant people in America”.

 

Striking down Roe v Wade would be a significant injustice falling hardest on those already struggling to access reproductive healthcare, including abortion. Shepherd continued “the overturning of a nearly-50 year old precedent is a stark reminder that women’s rights and reproductive rights more broadly are vulnerable to erosion”.

 

“Even though New Zealand legalised abortion in 2020, we must remain vigilant to ensure the right to abortion is preserved and abortion is accessible in Aotearoa. The United States has demonstrated that public opinion being overwhelming in support of legal abortion is not sufficient to protect the right”.

 

ALRANZ would remind everyone that abortion remains legal in all 50 states until the decision is formally released. For those who wish to show support, ALRANZ recommends donating to an abortion access funds in states such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi where abortion is already restricted.

 

 

Passage of Safe Areas Amendment Bill at third reading welcomed by ALRANZ

Passage of Safe Areas Amendment Bill at third reading welcomed by ALRANZ

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa welcomes the passing of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill 2020 at its third and final reading today. The Bill passed with overwhelming cross-party support. ALRANZ believes this reflects the view of the majority of New Zealanders who believe women should be able to access healthcare services without being harassed.

ALRANZ would like to thank all those MPs who worked on the Bill, spoke in favour of it, and who voted for it at the third reading. In particular ALRANZ would like to thank Louisa Wall for introducing this Bill and being such a strong advocate for abortion rights in Aotearoa.

ALRANZ President Tracy Morison said “women and pregnant peoples’ bodies are constantly policed, and it is encouraging that this bill rejects this in favour of restoring women’s dignity and privacy when accessing abortion care”.

“This legislation will ensure that people are able to exercise their fundamental right to healthcare and are able to choose whether or not to end a pregnancy. This is the definition of reproductive justice”.

The passage of this bill will also protect healthcare providers from obstruction, intimidation and threats of violence when accessing their place of work.

ALRANZ hopes that the Ministry of Health creates safe areas in a timely fashion to ensure that people seeking abortion healthcare in Aotearoa have unimpeded access to the services they require.  

 

National Abortion Telehealth Service a step toward equitable reproductive healthcare

File:Abortion pill.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Early medical abortion involves using two medications to end a pregnancy – mifepristone and misoprostol. (Image: VAlaSiurua via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa commends the Ministry of Health’s plan for a funded national abortion telehealth service as a significant step toward expanding access to abortion care.

 

 

“This service will address some of the current inequities in abortion access, especially for those who have to travel long distances. As seen during the pandemic, abortion telehealth helps ensure timely care and reduces burdens of cost, travel, and time,” says ALRANZ spokesperson Dr Tracy Morison. The service will help reduce gaps in reproductive healthcare for low-income, Māori, Pacifica, and disabled people.

 

 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, self-managed telemedicine abortion has increased globally. It has been demonstrated to be as safe and effective as when conducted in person in a medical facility. New Zealand’s service will provide consultations and medications for early medical abortions along with related services, including consultations, information, referrals, counselling, and after-care support.

 

 

In addition to helping reduce access barriers, telehealth abortion services provide consumers with privacy. Although support for abortion law reform is widespread, stigma persists. Morison says telehealth services allow consumers to avoid harassment, conscientious objection, or disclosing their choice if it is unsafe to do so.

 

 

ALRANZ applauds the national abortion telehealth service’s aim of providing free and flexible options and consumer-driven pathways. This initiative helps promote equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare for all New Zealanders.