Retaining existing abortion legislation in New Zealand
Dear friends of life please sign this petition asking our government not to decriminalise abortion. Activists have been demanding that abortion be removed from the Crimes Act and made merely a medical matter between a woman and a doctor. Right to Life believes that it is important that we understand why abortion is in the Crimes Act 1961, Section VIII, Crimes against the Person and why it would be a great injustice to women and to the unborn to remove abortion from this statute and to treat abortion purely as a health issue.
Section 183 Procuring abortion by any means, states that the unlawful killing of the unborn child is a serious crime and that on conviction an offender may be imprisoned for a term not exceeding 14 years. This section recognises that the unborn child for the purposes of this act is, from the moment of implantation a human being endowed with human rights, the most fundamental of which is their right to life. The existing Act is also an acknowledgement that the State has a duty to protect the right to life of all its citizens, including the unborn. Lastly, it is also an acknowledgement that the State has an interest in protecting the life of its future citizens which will guarantee the future of society.
The existing legislation was enacted to protect the lives of unborn New Zealanders in their first nine months of life. If abortion were removed from this Act, as is being sought by pro-choice activists, the increased accessibility would allow vulnerable women facing an unplanned pregnancy no stop gap to allow appropriate time and intervention for them to consider all their options. We believe that the decriminalisation of abortion would also result in a significant increase in the number of unborn children losing their lives as we have seen so frequently happen in other countries that expanded abortion legislation.
Some also argue that inclusion of abortion in the Crimes Act makes women criminals. This is false. Section 183 clearly states that a woman or girl may not be charged as a party to this section. Women facing an unplanned pregnancy should be supported. Having abortion in the Crimes Act actually, allows a woman to ‘slow down’ amidst a situation where she is often experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. This allows her to consider what is going to be best for her and her unborn child. In this light, legislation, as it stands, is effectively pro-women as well as pro-baby as it looks out for the best interests of both parties.
Currently, in New Zealand, nearly 99% of abortions performed are done so under Section 187A paragraph 1, (A), of the CS& A Act, which allows abortions on the supposed grounds of danger to the mother's mental or physical health if she continues her pregnancy. In spite of what appears to be a clear abuse of the original intention of the Act, the current law does provide other safeguards to the unborn child in that it requires two certifying Consultants to approve the abortion. Even though we believe the criteria for abortions are being abused in practice, this requirement affords at least some protection, which would likely be lost if abortion were removed from the Crimes Act.
There are further concerns relating to the decriminalisation of abortion. With no safeguards to regulate the practice of surgical or medical abortion, this would pose additional threats to the health and life of the mother. Currently, abortions in New Zealand are performed in licenced and regulated facilities. With decriminalisation, would abortions then be permitted to be performed in any general medical clinic or hospital or by those who lacked obstetric or gynaecological experience? Women who do not live close to medical services and in remote regional areas may be left without appropriate follow-up services after an abortion procedure. There are many documented cases of the negative physical and psychological impact of abortion and it appears that these have not been considered in the push to decriminalise abortion here. Easier access may make it much easier for a human life to be taken but it would most certainly also place the life and health of the mother at risk.
In this light, we are asking that abortion should be retained in the Crimes Act 1961, and further that the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act (CS & A) (1977), be administered in accordance with its originally intended provisions.
Right to Life is also seeking to ensure that the protection of conscience rights for doctors and other medical professionals are upheld, ensuring those professionals are not forced to be involved in any way with the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. These conscience rights are currently protected in Section 46 of the CS&A Act. This protection also extends to pharmacists who under the law are not obliged to fill a prescription for contraceptives including the Morning-After Pill, which may act as an abortifacient.
NZ Family Planning and others within the pro-abortion movement, have further claimed that New Zealand is currently in violation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). New Zealand is a signatory to CEDAW, however, there is nothing in the Convention which states that abortion is a human right. Further, there is also nothing in the Convention that requires States to decriminalise their abortion laws. The correct and lawful interpretation of CEDAW is of paramount importance. It also seems absurb for the UN to also be pushing abortion at a time where it is evident internationally that many jurisdictions including the United States are seeing a ‘turning back’ on abortion legislation. This is following advancements in technology that clearly show the humanity of the unborn child, the capacity of the unborn child to feel pain and further, evidence to demonstrate the negative impact both in the short and long term of abortion for many women and their families.
Please join us in signing this petition and standing-up for vulnerable women and importantly the unborn, the weakest and most at risk members of our human community. This petition with your signatures will be sent to the Ministers involved in this legislation, Health, Justice and Women.
Sign this petition now!
Petition to: Minister of Health Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman