Lawmakers in New Zealand are looking to pass radical pro-abortion legislation that would virtually allow abortion on demand until birth with few restrictions and would create “safe spaces” outside of abortion clinics to protect women from pro-life advocates.
The New York Times notes that abortion is technically illegal in New Zealand under the 1961 Crimes Act, but has been widely available to women who make the required claims about risks to their physical or mental health. But legislation proposed by Justice Minister Andrew Little would make some radical changes to existing abortion law, including removing abortion from the Crimes Act and treating it as a health issue.
Last October, New Zealand’s Law Commission released a report entitled “Alternative Approaches to Abortion Law” at Little’s request. The report recommended three alternatives to New Zealand’s existing law: abortion on demand without restriction, abortion on demand with some restrictions, or abortion on demand until 22 weeks, with exceptions made for abortions after 22 weeks. Little’s legislation appears to have opted for the third alternative with just a slight change. If his law is successful, abortion will be made on demand for the first 20 weeks and will continue to be on demand after 20 weeks with some restrictions.
Under current New Zealand law, women may obtain abortions up to 20 weeks so long as they receive approval from two doctors and counseling. The proposed measure would legalize abortions up to 20 weeks on demand, without the requirement of a referral and the approval of two certifying consultants. Additionally, while counselling must continue to be offered to women seeking abortions, it would be non-mandatory.