This week we brought New Zealand's abortion laws into the 21st century
Seeking an abortion was a crime until now, but new legislation has removed the stigma and given women a choice
Thu 19 Mar 2020
New Zealand’s current abortion laws are more than 40 years old and were enacted when there were more MPs in Parliament named Bill than MPs who were female. This week we brought the laws into the 21st century.
Up to now, women seeking an abortion in New Zealand were committing a crime under our main criminal statute but had a defence if they followed the requirements of the abortion legislation. These requirements included the woman being referred by their doctor to two specialists who each had to certify she faces a serious danger to her life or physical or mental health. Other conditions also applied, such as whether the pregnancy was a result of incest or the woman lacked capacity to consent. For abortions after 20 weeks, conditions were more stringent.
New Zealand passes landmark law to decriminalize abortion
By Nick Perry, The Associated Press
Wed., March 18, 2020
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Margaret Sparrow was 21 years old when she drank a concoction to induce an abortion, at a time when the procedure was both illegal and socially unacceptable in New Zealand.
Now age 84, Sparrow was delighted Wednesday when lawmakers passed a landmark bill that treats the procedure as a health issue rather than a crime.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Sparrow, a doctor who has spent her life advocating for the reproductive rights of women.
Voting mix-up sees abortion safe-zones axed and MPs 'gutted'
11 Mar, 2020
By: Amelia Wade, Reporter, NZ Herald
Justice Minister Andrew Little is disappointed that proposed "safe zones" around abortion clinics got axed late last night in a voting mix-up.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who supported the proposal to establish 150m protest-free areas around clinics, has brushed off the error as "the outcome of democracy".
Pro-choice protestors to rally around NZ for abortion law reform
Feb 18, 2020
Pro-choice protestors are set to rally around New Zealand today in support of abortion law reform.
“Now is the time for people who care about women and pregnant people to come out to the National Day of Action and show the politicians we need change," said Terry Bellamak, National President of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ).
The Abortion Legislation Bill, which passed its first reading last year at 94 votes to 23, is under a conscience vote, meaning MPs will vote in the next reading on what they individually believe, rather than along party lines.
Can Ardern Successfully Decriminalize Abortion in New Zealand?
The Editors, World Politics Review
Friday, Sept. 20, 2019
New Zealand’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly last month to advance a bill that would decriminalize abortion and loosen restrictions on the procedure. Under current law, women can only obtain an abortion in New Zealand if they receive approval from two doctors, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to change that while campaigning in 2017. The bill must pass two more rounds of voting before it can become law.
According to Yanshu Huang, a research fellow at the University of Auckland’s Public Policy Institute, Ardern’s push for reform also reflects a broader change in public opinion among New Zealanders, toward more pro-choice views. In an email interview with WPR, she discusses the roots of abortion’s anachronistic classification as a crime in New Zealand and the reasons it took so long for abortion law reform to gain traction.
New Zealand is finally trying to decriminalize abortion. Why has it taken so long?
By Julia Hollingsworth, CNN
Sun August 18, 2019
(CNN) Veronica was 21 years old and scared. It all started with a break-up. Her long-term boyfriend left her for her friend. Heartbroken, she ended up having a one-night stand with an older guy.
After the condom broke, he gave her $20 ($13) for the morning after pill, which doesn't require a prescription in New Zealand. She took it but a month later, in the final semester of her teaching degree, she found out she was pregnant.
NEW ZEALAND – Abortion Law Reform Bill passes first reading by wide margin
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Aug 16, 2019
The long awaited, draft abortion law reform bill passed its first reading, 94 to 23, in the Parliament on 8 August 2019. “The biggest change was taking it out of the criminal code, which is very positive,” reported Jackie Edmond, head of Family Planning NZ, since abortion services were still managed through the Ministry of Justice, even though it’s a health service.
In the last 10 years, 2,566 women have been told that their request for an abortion was unjustified, according to a report from Stuff Circuit, an investigative reporting group, with data from the NZ Abortion Supervisory Committee.
ALRANZ reports that much of the new bill is great, but not everything. Here are the things Terry Bellamak says the government definitely got right:
‘The time is right’: New Zealand’s parliament advances bill that would decriminalize abortion
By Siobhán O'Grady
August 8, 2019
Lawmakers in New Zealand voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of advancing an abortion bill that would dramatically loosen restrictions surrounding the procedure, in one of the most significant steps New Zealand’s leaders have taken toward revising the country’s abortion policies since the late 1970s.
Thursday’s vote was expected to be close, but it advanced easily to the next stage, with 94 voting in favor and 23 against. After further discussion, it will take two more rounds of voting for it to become law.
New Zealand Takes On a Long-Avoided Issue: Decriminalizing Abortion
By Charlotte Graham-McLay
Aug. 5, 2019
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government said on Monday that it would try to pass a law decriminalizing abortion, taking on an issue that the nation’s lawmakers have long avoided even as the country built a socially liberal reputation on the world stage.
Under current law, women seeking an abortion must claim that the pregnancy would harm their physical or mental health, and have the procedure approved by two doctors.
Abortion law reform is coming to New Zealand, here's what happens next
A bill that would remove abortion from the Crimes Act will go before Cabinet ministers on Tuesday for final approval.
Jul 23 2019
New Zealanders will discover how far the Government plans to liberalise abortion laws in weeks, not months, according to Justice Minister Andrew Little.
Party leaders firmed their positions on abortion on Tuesday with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying she supported decriminalisation, while National leader Simon Bridges would not say whether he would back the bill.