–Originally posted at our old blog, on 10 November 2011–
On Tuesday night, I attended a pre-election event organised by the Wellington Young Feminists Collective. It was a great event, well attended, with lots of good questions asked. On the panel were: Paul Foster-Bell (National Party candidate for Wellington Central), Jordan Carter (Labour Party list candidate), Ben Craven (NZ First candidate for Wellington Central), Holly Walker (Green Party candidate for Hutt South), Jan Logie (Green Party candidate for Mana), and Stephen Whittington (Act Party candidate for Wellington Central).
When an audience member asked the candidates for their views on abortion law reform, all claimed to be pro-choice. Stephen Whittington had mentioned during his introductory speech that he disagrees with abortion being in the Crimes Act. Paul Foster-Bell told us that abortion law reform would be a conscience issue for National MPs, and then managed to avoid saying what he personally thought by talking about how he is absolutely for the right of women to access safe, legal, hygienic… medical treatment. Jordan Carter said that he would vote for decriminalisation. Ben Craven claimed to be pro-choice, but expressed concern about women terminating pregnancies after discovering cosmetic defects through pre-natal screening. Holly Walker said that the Green’s policy is “silent” on the issue of abortion law, which makes it an issue that she and other Green MPS can only talk about from their individual point of view. She said she personally believed our abortion laws are outdated and long in need of a review, and that abortion shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act. Jan Logie said that abortion rights were a matter of bodily integrity.
When another audience member asked a follow-up question, requesting a yes/no response as to whether the candidates thought their parties would push for a review of abortion laws were they to be part of the next government, both Green candidates said that it was possible the Greens would. The rest of the panel did not respond to this question (unless I missed this from where I was sitting).
While it is important to remember that this is not an official party position, I find it heartening that both of these Green candidates, whose positions on their party’s list give them a good chance of becoming MPs after this election (particularly Jan, who is at number nine) are openly pro-choice and seem committed to encouraging their party to move on this issue.
I was sitting near you- but I don’t believe any of the other candidates answered the question regarding a push for review of abortion law. Simultaneously heartening that we have strong and empathetic MPs who would push for a reform, and really sad that no other NZ political parties seem to have this pressing issue on their agenda.
You should win a prize or something for being the first commenter on our new blog! Yes I agree about being simultaneously heartened and sad. I guess I already know that no other political parties have the issue on their agenda at the moment so wasn’t surprised by their silence. Thanks for asking your question at the event. xx