Vote Choice: Colin Craig of the Conservative Party

vote-for-choice-round_1This is the first election that may bring Colin Craig into Parliament, so we took a look at Bob McCoskrie’s “Forum on the Family 2014” interview with him.

Firstly, on parental notification (from 21.19 in this YouTube video)

CC: Oh, absolutely. Hey, I’d change it if I could, absolutely – I’d propose it. I think it’s long overdue that we recognize that an exception to what is otherwise a generally accepted principle, which is that parents or guardians are consulted around the medical issues of children, simply shouldn’t be made on this issue – it shouldn’t be made on any issue. When did we think that separating children from their parents was the smart way to go? It’s not, it’s another breakdown of what I believe is the basic institution of society, which is the family. You start getting the law in there and prying apart those relationships, and isolating a child in a particular circumstance, which could be a difficult one – it’s just not the right way to go.

Far from “prying apart those relationships”, the current law (explained here) is designed to protect those who don’t feel able to tell their parents/guardians. Nothing prevents young pregnant people from informing and/or involving their parents if they feel able to. Good child-parent relationships cannot be legislated into reality, so vulnerable pregnant teens must be protected from having any decision forced on them.

Colin_CraigNext, Craig goes on to explain why he supports legislation giving “an unborn child the right to life”, even though he accepts that such legislation is unlikely to ever be passed in New Zealand:

BM: In the Value Your Vote, in 2011, I think you got in a bit of trouble because one of the questions we asked was “Does the unborn child have a right to life?”. And…

CC: Yeah, was that the exact wording? I think it was “Would you support legislation? .. I think was –

BM: Giving an unborn child the right to life-

CC: Yeah, yeah.

BM: And you put undecided.

CC: Yeah, I did.

BM: And, in this year’s one, that we’re about to release, you’ve put ‘Yes, you would support it’.

CC: Yeah.

BM: What’s changed?

CC: Well, I think the understanding of the question’s changed, because the first time that that came out I was looking around the world going “Okay, where have they got legislation along these lines?” and Poland, which is a 97% Catholic country, was trying to get legislation through to that effect, and they were having a lot of difficulties around the legalities of it. So I looked at it very much strictly on the wording, and not so much on the principle. Now I’m looking at it in terms of the principle and saying well, I absolutely support an unborn child’s right to life, and I always have – that hasn’t changed, but I think the way I’m looking at the question has changed, in that I’m seeing it not so much as a “Can you practically imagine that we could get legislation in this country to that effect?” It’s more a principled answer to say this is where I do stand.

And finally, he comments on the Greens’ proposal to decriminalise abortion:

CC: Well, look I was already, I mean I’ve been interviewed on TV about that, and I just said “Look, I think that’s a crazy, extreme suggestion.” I think that we already have too many abortions and I think that anyone in their right mind would hopefully have the ideal that we should reduce those. And hopefully get rid of them altogether, although I think that’s a Utopian view. I don’t think we could achieve that, but we certainly can achieve a dramatic reduction. And that’s a life saved every time and I… for me that’s huge and I think that those – and I’m imagining that some people here (gesturing to audience) probably work in that field, and I’ve always thought of it like this: If we could reduce abortions by a thousand a year, in twenty years down the track, you put every one of those kids in a room, you’d have 20,000 people there who would otherwise have died. (scattered applause) And I think when you think like that, it makes it really clear where we should be.

BM: What about in terms of pre-screening? For gender selection, for Down Syndrome? For cleft palate, like in the UK?

CC: Oh, no, no, look I’m not in favour of that because I think all you’re doing is then giving people more reasons to go there. I mean, and I know in some countries they, you know, it’s all male-female and males are more important so let’s ditch the females – I’m not sure there are any countries where they do it the other way around yet. Although if feminism keeps going, you never know, Bob. (laughter from audience) You never know. But no, look, I think it’s just such a dangerous place to go. I think we do want to know if the mother’s health is going to be compromised. That for me is what pre-screening should be about. It should be about “Is this healthy? Are we all going well and we’re on track?” Because there are times when medical intervention is necessary. And I think that’s what medicine should be focussed on, is preserving life, both mother and child.

So to sum up:

• he wants mandatory parental notification laws

• he supports the principle of right to life but doesn’t think it’s practical

• he thinks that letting the pregnant person decide for themselves is crazy and extreme

• he doesn’t support any pre-screening abortion for any reason unless there is a health risk to the pregnant person, because it gives people “more reasons to go there” (ie, ignorance is bliss!)

• he’s a little worried about the feminist agenda

So there you have it. Colin Craig, leader of the Conservative Party, a true conservative, cares so deeply about families that he neglects to consider individuals.


Many thanks to Kerri for watching, listening and transcribing CC.

Read all the entries in our Vote Choice series.




Why the Greens’ Abortion Policy Is So Important

By Dr. Morgan Healey, President ALRANZ

Note: Alranz exec members wrote two op-eds that were submitted to The New Zealand Herald (APN) and The Waikato Times (Fairfax) on 8 June, two days after the Green’s policy was announced. They weren’t published so we thought we’d reproduce them here. This is the first, by Morgan Healey, submitted to the Herald. We will post the second in a few days.)

voteForChoice_Page_2The Green Party last week became the first political party in Aotearoa New Zealand to set formal policy on abortion. With the ratification of their women’s health policy, the Greens took a momentous step forward in the fight for abortion law reform; something organisations like the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) have been advocating for since 1971. Despite what anti-abortion groups have said, this is not a radical or extreme policy. It actually places abortion within the continuum of sexual and reproductive health care – asserting what most of us already know – abortion is a necessary medical service that does not need to be regulated by archaic, confusing or harmful laws that restrict access and limit bodily autonomy. The Greens’ spokesperson on the policy, MP Jan Logie, was unambiguous in her statement about this: abortion is not a crime, so let’s stop treating it as such!

While this policy does not change the current criminalisation of abortion, it is important for two reasons: it makes abortion a topic for discussion in an election year, and it sends the message that women must be trusted to make their own reproductive decisions.

Talking about abortion in an election year is a brave step and one I applaud the Greens for taking. I know it would have been just as easy to wait and release the policy after the election or not bother to talk about abortion at all (which seems to be the political default), but they didn’t. This sends a clear signal not just to the electorate but also to the other parties: women’s autonomy and rights should not be ignored for political gain. We haven’t seen this type of political commitment to reproductive justice since then Labour MP Steve Chadwick tried to tackle abortion in 2010, and was subsequently punished for her bold efforts.

I recognize that abortion is not going to be the defining issue of this election. ALRANZ is a non-partisan organisation, and as such hopes Labour, National, New Zealand First, Māori and Internet/Mana sit up and take notice of the Greens’ action; not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it also contests the ‘scariness’ of abortion as a political issue.  If the Greens’ policy can begin to normalise abortion as topic for discussion, then this is indeed a win for the pro-choice movement.

And this leads into the second reason the Greens’ policy is so important – taking the exceptional out of abortion and attempting to destigmatise it. On average, one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. In 2012, 14, 745 women had an abortion in Aotearoa. I doubt any of these women planned to have an unintended or unwanted pregnancy, but for whatever reason they made the best choice for themselves in that moment. Whether or not they realized it, their actions were governed by the Crimes Act, their decision was not their own, but sanctioned by two certifying consultants; and 98% of them were deemed mentally at risk in order to meet the restrictive grounds for an abortion.  The only thing exceptional about New Zealand’s abortions laws is how unacceptable they are, and that in 2014 women continue to be treated as second-class citizens. What is even more appalling is that in general politicians have allowed this to happen.

The Greens have challenged this reality, asserting it is time to trust pregnant people to make decisions about their reproduction. To quote Logie,

“…it is time that abortion is removed from the Crimes Act, and brought out from that shadow of judgment and mistrust of women, because ultimately it is a health issue.”

For far too long politicians have been able to remain silent on abortion. I am hopeful that this new policy will encourage and enable other political parties to step out of shadows of anti-choice intimidation and fear mongering. The pregnant people of this country deserve more than fragmented and criminalised reproductive health care. The electorate of this country can help to change this – ask your local candidate or political party about abortion this election year. Make sure politicians know that the continued criminalization of abortion is not acceptable and it is time for law reform.