by Terry B

Right to Life New Zealand talks a good game. Its website talks about “protecting women” from abortion. It says “abortion is violence against women” and frets about women “left with a lifetime of sorrow, guilt and regret.”

But their alleged concern for women is a lie. They demonstrated as much with their action in the High Court, seeking a judgment that would deny women access to a safer, cheaper, and less traumatic medical abortion in the first nine weeks. Perhaps they figure if a woman is going to get an abortion, she should suffer for it as much as possible.

With this action Right to Life has brought New Zealand closer to the day when the government has to decide what kind of a country we are. Are we a country that decides scientific questions on the basis of peer-reviewed science, and medical questions on the basis of evidence-based medicine? Or do we pander to people who want to force other people to live by their religious beliefs whether those other people share them or not?

For almost 40 years successive governments have allowed abortion to remain a crime while doctors committed to women’s bodily autonomy have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s to make abortion more or less accessible. But government’s cowardly dance of avoidance is becoming untenable.

If the High Court decides in Right to Life’s favour, will the government allow women to receive sub-standard abortion care relative to other Western democracies? Will it allow tax dollars to be wasted on surgical abortions that could have been accomplished medically? How much is the government willing to sacrifice to pander to the religious right?