Editorial: Abortion law needs to catch up with real life
6 Nov, 2018
Abortion is not a subject most people want to discuss, either as personal experience or as a matter of public policy. New Zealanders who remember our abortion debate of the 1970s probably have no wish to repeat it, but it looks likely the country will need to. The Labour Party wants to remove abortion from the criminal law and treat it as a health matter. Justice Minister Andrew Little has taken the first step, getting advice from the Law Commission on how that might be done.
The debate of 40 years ago ended, as difficult issues often do, in a compromise that satisfied neither side. The Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977 set out conditions under which abortion could be legally performed in New Zealand. Essentially two doctors had to decide that a pregnancy met one of the conditions under which abortion was permitted on the Crimes Act.