Pro-choice campaigners applaud review of abortion laws

Morning Talk 30/10/2018

Campaigners are hailing the possibility of abortion law reform following the recommendation of three new regimes for accessing abortion.

“It’s certainly well past time for some good reform,” said Terry Bellamak, spokesperson for Abortion Rights Aotearoa.

The Law Commission recommended three possible new models for accessing abortion earlier this week, after releasing its findings of a review into abortion law.

Ms Bellamak told RadioLIVE that the announcement is a step in the right direction.

“Back in 1977 there were only four women MPs, but now 40 percent of Parliament is women, which is great. 

“Back when the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act first passed, the people in New Zealand didn’t really want it and there was a big movement to repeal it because it was too conservative,” said Ms Bellamak.

Currently a person must say they are physically or mentally incapable of continuing the pregnancy and gain permission from two certifying consultants before they are able to get an abortion.

Christian group Family First expressed disappointment in the review and said most of the submissions made to the Law Commission were not in favour of abortion.

The Law Commission did admit this in the report, but added a significant number of the submissions not in favour of abortion were made using a Family First "I'm with both" pamphlet.

The Law Commission's three suggested replacement models are:

  • A: not requiring any statutory test, leaving the decision to the person seeking an abortion and health practitioners
  • B: requiring a statutory test and the health practitioner who intends to perform the abortion being satisfied the procedure is appropriate in the circumstances, considering the person's physical and mental health and wellbeing
  • C: not requiring a statutory test until 22 weeks of pregnancy. After 22 weeks the health practitioner intending to perform the abortion would need to be satisfied it is appropriate in the circumstances, after considering the person's mental and physical wellbeing.

Justice Minister Andrew Little revealed that he’d prefer the third option, but it's not clear what would happen if an abortion was carried out after the 22-week threshold without meeting the statutory requirements.

Listen to the full interviews with Terry Bellamak above.

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