Author: Eska-Mikołajewska, J
Published in National Security Journal, 05 April 2021
The next important step in the way to liberalisation of abortion law in New Zealand concerned section 38 of the Care of Child Act 200460 which permitted girls under the age of 16 to seek an abortion in accordance with the procedure specified in the CS&A. Before the 2004 Act, however, there were no laws in force that would require for women under 18 seeking abortions to notify or obtain parents’ consent. It is worth emphasising that among other non-urgent medical procedures, abortion was the only one that did not require such consent. Conservative National MP for Clevedon, Judith Collins, supported by the anti-abortion organisation Voice for Life, which was the primary mover of the amendment to this Act, welcomed the results of the Herald-DigiPoll. The survey showed that 71.1% of New Zealanders believed parents should be informed about whether or not their child was to have an abortion, with 60.7% believing this should be mandatory by law.61
In 2008, a former list MP, Gordon Copeland of the Kiwi Party introduced the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion (Informed Consent) Amendment Bill modeled on the Australian Capital Territory concept of Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion (Informed consent).62 However, it was defeated on a voice vote in Parliament. Two years later, in July 2010, Labour MP, Steve Chadwick proposed the “Abortion Reform Act” with a view to remove the criminal status of abortion. A lack of sufficient parliamentary support for Chadwick’s bill and strong opposition from Voice for Life made this initiative a failure.63
Undoubtedly, the wave of international changes to abortion laws in the second decade of the 21st century led to the resumption of the abortion rights campaign in New Zealand, with a particular emphasis on decriminalising abortion. Following 2015, Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ), the only significant abortion-rights lobbying group that started in 1971 after more radical Women’s National Abortion Action Campaign (WONAAC) ceased its activities64, carried out a number of notable lobbying initiatives. One of them was the national poll on voters attitudes to abortion which showed that a majority of New Zealand voters supported legal abortion under all the given specific circumstances, such as the probability of a woman’s death, the probability of fetal death, the difficult life situation of a woman, pregnancy resulted from rape or birth control failure.65
On February 27, 2018 the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little sought the advice of the New Zealand Law Commission for their advice on changes to the abortion legal framework.66 Just eight months later, ALRANZ together with six women with experiences of discrimination from seeking abortions in New Zealand issued a complaint to New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission (HRC), challenging the existing abortion legal framework. ALRANZ representatives pointed out that abortion, which legally required the consent of two consultants, thus proving that the provisions on abortion violate human rights. According to ALRANZ, women were discriminated against as they were treated worse than other people using the health care system in New Zealand.