Answers to 5 questions about NZ’s abortion law

Incredibly (but perhaps not surprisingly), some of the mainstream media have been misrepresenting the current abortion law. In fact, we’ve contacted the media a couple of times asking them to correct their misrepresentations (which fortunately they have!)

So with the assistance of legal advice, we’ve produced a new resource which clearly sets out the CURRENT law, and the PROPOSED law (as recommended by the Law Commission).

Bob McCoskrie Family First

The resource, which can be downloaded below, answers five key questions in detail but I have created a quick glance summary.

Question one: Are women ‘criminalised’ for having an abortion?

Answer: Yes and No. Some may be technically breaking the law but no one has ever been convicted of having an unlawful abortion in New Zealand.

Question two: Does NZ have abortion on demand?

Not officially. By law, there is no automatic ‘right’ to have an abortion. However certifying consultants adopt a very wide interpretation of the ‘mental health’ ground for abortion. Judith Collins has stated in parliament, “To be absolutely frank, we have abortion on demand in New Zealand, in everything except name.”

Question three: What changes are proposed?

The government wants to treat abortion as a ‘health’ issue rather than a criminal issue. They have three proposed models for abortion law.

The three proposed models for NZ abortion law.

Question four: Does this mean late-term abortions will become legal?

Late-term abortion is already legal in some circumstances, and data provided by Statistics NZ shows that the vast majority of these abortions are carried out due to danger to the mental health of the woman (rather than danger to her life or physical health).

Any of the proposed models would make late-term abortions considerably more accessible than they are under the current law. Under Model A, a baby could be aborted up until birth. Under Model C, a baby could be aborted without any restrictions up until 22 weeks. Under Model B, and Model C after 22 weeks on, a baby could be aborted as long as the health practitioner considers that the abortion was ‘appropriate in the circumstances’.

Question five: What do the proposed law changes leave out?

  • No provisions are proposed to protect women from being coerced into an abortion.
  • No provisions are proposed for ensuring women have the mental-health support they need both before and after an abortion, or ensuring that women are made fully aware of the risks of abortion and of all of their options.
  • There’s no proposal to prevent schools from taking young women for an abortion without parental knowledge or to prevent sex-selective abortion.
  • It is unclear whether doctors and nurses would retain their right to freedom of conscience, which currently allows them to decline to take part in abortions.

Below is the short 2-page summary which will provide additional details.

Download the two page document today to fully understand what the debate is really about.