ALRANZ congratulates the Republic of Ireland on making abortion available to women and pregnant people legally in their own country.

“Pregnant people can now start the process to access abortion in Ireland,” said Terry Bellamak, National president of ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa.

“It marks a huge step forward for the people of Ireland, one we could scarcely have foreseen back in 2012, when Savita Halappanavar died from being denied a necessary abortion in Galway.

“But someone who starts the process today will not be able to get an abortion for three days, because of the waiting period. 

“Activists in Ireland have said the three-day waiting period was a sop to the anti-choice side, because there is no medical justification for it. That sounds right, and it’s hard to see what it has accomplished, except to make abortion more difficult to access, and to increase the chances of someone running out of time.

“The New Zealand Law Commission’s report has rubbished the idea of waiting periods here. It seems like a non-issue in New Zealand, but the experience in Ireland shows we need to make sure it stays that way.”

The three-day waiting period has been criticised as “demeaning” because it “makes presumptions about women’s ability to make decisions about their own healthcare”.

Research in 2016 in the USA found a higher level of decisional certainty for people choosing abortion than for those choosing other medical procedures.

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act.

The Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, has asked the New Zealand Law Commission to review the country’s abortion laws with the intention of treating abortion as a health matter rather than a criminal matter. During the election campaign, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to reform New Zealand’s abortion laws, making abortion care available as a matter of right.

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion care. 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 care on request.