Abortion reform group ALRANZ welcomes Justice Minister Little’s consideration of a Law Commission review of New Zealand’s abortion law.
The Minister last month said he intends to ask the Law Commission to update the 41-year-old law on abortion including looking at decriminalising it. He is currently consulting with NZ First and Greens before formally approaching the Law Commission.
Terry Bellamak, national president of ALRANZ (The Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand) said decriminalisation must include getting rid of certifying consultant approvals based on the grounds for the abortion.
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. Bellamak said these grounds did not include rape, nor the most common reasons cited overseas: contraception failure and the inability to support a child.
“The Law Commission has the opportunity to eliminate much of the time-consuming box-ticking exercise pregnant people must go through to access abortion, by modernising the law,” said Bellamak.
“New Zealand’s current legal framework imposes restrictions that place the decision to terminate a pregnancy in the hands of doctors the pregnant person has likely never even met before. That is ridiculous. The pregnant person should be able to choose and access abortion as a matter of right.”
Bellamak said ALRANZ believes the Law Commission should not preserve other restrictions that overmedicalise a safe, routine medical procedure that one in four New Zealanders capable of becoming pregnant will access during their reproductive lives.
“We hope the Law Commission will take international medical best practice into account, backed up by peer-reviewed research.
“The bottom line is this: trust pregnant people to make the best decisions they can, for themselves and their families.”
She said poll results showed a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.
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