Dame Margaret Sparrow, former national president of ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa, is on the shortlist for New Zealander of the Year.

ALRANZ is proud that Kiwibank has recognised Dame Margaret’s ceaseless efforts to empower the people of New Zealand by changing our abortion laws to give effect to their own reproductive choices. We have known for a long time how awesome she is.

Moreover, this honour highlights once again how New Zealand society has changed over the past 50 years. Reproductive rights are no longer spoken of in hushed tones. The majority of us recognise the rights and dignity of pregnant people.

As New Zealand abortion law has fallen farther behind our OECD neighbours in acknowledging the human right of bodily autonomy for all pregnant people, Kiwis have called for change. And change is coming.

At the Wellington March for Abortion Reform last July, Dame Margaret told the crowd at Parliament what it was like to be pregnant and desperate in the 1960s. Your choices were all bad: spend a fortune to fly to Australia for a safe termination; try your luck with a potion from a dodgy source; risk injury or death from an illegal surgical abortion; plead for mercy from the local hospital’s abortion board; or, be incarcerated in a mother-and-baby home where your child would be forcibly taken from you for adoption.

No compassionate person wants to go back to those days. This is why reproductive rights are mainstream.

We salute Dame Margaret, and we salute Kiwibank for this well-deserved honour to a New Zealand legend.