On the day of her resignation announcement, ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa expressed its gratitude to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her steadfast support for reproductive rights in Aotearoa.
During the second 2017 leaders’ debate, Ardern stated her position that abortion should be decriminalised in Aotearoa and treated as a health matter rather than a criminal matter. Ardern stood firm in her support for the bodily autonomy of all citizens, and as Prime Minister she presided over a government that decriminalised abortion in its first term.
After almost 50 years of neglect and shamefaced silence from New Zealand’s political class (with a few exceptions), Ardern flipped the script and took a stand on much-needed, much delayed reform. Even though it was a conscience vote, the government’s support provided cover for MPs who might otherwise have been too intimidated to vote for reform.
In the years since New Zealand’s COVID-19 response saved thousands of Kiwi lives, Ardern, along with other high-profile women, has experienced vicious misogynist attacks in the guise of critique from both mainstream media and social media. Some of those attacks have focused on her government’s commitment to reproductive rights. She has, however, stayed the course.
Around the world, reproductive rights are under attack, even in places like the USA, whose early adoption of legal abortion made it a model for other countries. New Zealand stands in sharp contrast, with a new, reformed abortion law that has improved access to abortion care. With Arden moving on, ALRANZ will increase its efforts to make sure abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible.
We wish PM Ardern the very best in her next endeavours. We feel certain that, given her well-deserved stature on the world stage, she will continue to make the world a better place by espousing the values of kindness, following the science, and knowing your subject far better than your opponents do.