Abortion in New Zealand should be managed like any other health service and not managed as a crime, says a coalition of organisations who are calling for abortion to be removed from the Crimes Act.
The International Day for the Decriminalisation of Abortion (28 September) is an opportunity to highlight that abortion is a crime in New Zealand – unless two doctors sign off that a woman has met a series of criteria as set out in a number of laws.
Family Planning, the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ), and Women’s Health Action say that the majority of women in New Zealand have access to high-quality and safe abortion services.
“However, abortion remains stigmatised. On the International Day for the Decriminalisation of Abortion, we must ask if we are prepared to accept an essential women’s health service continuing to be managed as a crime. Abortion in New Zealand should be managed like any other health service.”
The three groups says that International Day for the Decriminalisation of Abortion is a timely opportunity to call for three changes to be made to New Zealand’s abortion laws:
- The removal of abortion from the Crimes Act 1961 (decriminalisation)
- A review of the services and processes for accessing abortion to ensure they meet the standards of access, acceptability and affordability for New Zealand women
- And, that the services and processes should be managed under the Minister of Health and removed from any association with the Minister of Justice.
International precedents have been set with the decriminalisation of abortion in several Australian states as well as the recent observations by the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on New Zealand’s latest report. “The Committee notes with concern, however, the convoluted abortion laws which require women to get certificates from two certified consultants before an abortion can be performed, thus making women dependent on the benevolent interpretation of a rule which nullifies their autonomy.”
Committee member Patricia Schulz of Switzerland noted that the “male-dominated language of the law, which used “he” to describe doctors, was telling. If women could reach the highest levels of office, should they not be able to decide for themselves whether to have an abortion?”
The Committee urged the Government to review the abortion law and practice with a view to simplifying it and to ensure women’s autonomy to choose.
For more information on abortion law in New Zealand
More information on the International Day for the Decriminalisation of Abortion can be found at: http://www.wgnrr.org/news/september-28-global-campaign-decriminalisation-abortion
To become involved in the campaign to decriminalise abortion in New Zealand:
Become a member of Family Planning
Join the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand
Sign up for Women’s Health Action’s e-newsletter