Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand president Terry Bellamak is pushing for abortion law reform that would make a termination more easily accessible to women. Photo / Supplied

There are hopes that New Zealand will follow Ireland’s lead in changing the law around abortion soon.

The Government has asked the Law Commission for options around treating abortion in New Zealand as a health issue and taking it out of the Crimes Act.

“Treating it as a health matter is a really crucial distinction because health matters are governed not by moralistic arguments but by medical best practice based on peer-reviewed research. It’s evidence-based and focused on what’s best for the patient. That’s really important and that’s the kind of thing we want to see,” said Terry Bellamak, president of Alranz, Abortion Rights Aotearoa.

At the weekend, Ireland voting overwhelmingly in a referendum in favour of overturning the Republic of Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion.

Ireland’s proposed legislation, expected to be in place before the end of the year, will allow abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to the 24th week in exceptional circumstances.

Bellamak said the Irish result was heartening but not unexpected.

“There’s been so much change going on in Ireland … it’s been a change that’s been happening for a long time and I’m really glad that this domino has now fallen.”

Minister of Justice Andrew Little has written to the Law Commission on the Government’s proposed policy shift to treat abortion as a health issue.

He has asked the commission to provide advice on what alternative approaches could be taken in the legal framework to align with a health approach.

The commission has considered the views of the public and health professionals and is due to provide its advice by October.

National leader Simon Bridges said today there was no need to change the laws.

“I have not seen a case for change in this area, overall I think the regime we have for abortions is working well,” he told RNZ this morning.

“What we want to see is abortions being rare, safe and legal. I think we do see that in New Zealand.”

“It would be a conscience vote in Parliament, people can make the case. Ultimately, this is at the Law Commission, let’s see what they say and see the case that they make.”

Abortions are currently permitted as a medical procedure when the woman faces serious physical or mental harm as a result of carrying the child to term and where two certifying consultants agree.

Source: NZ Herald

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