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Political Action on Abortion Rights Now Urgent
Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand
24 June 2011
The fresh round of court action against abortion access announced today by the anti-abortion group Right to Life shows yet again that Parliament must urgently address the need to decriminalise abortion in New Zealand, ALRANZ President Dr. Morgan Healey said today.
“This case, which is aimed at ending abortion services in New Zealand, has been dragging on for more than six years, has cost the Crown over $300,000 to defend and continues to unsettle women seeking abortion care and the doctors who provide it,” Dr. Healey said.
She said ALRANZ was disappointed that Parliament continued to stand by as the reproductive rights of New Zealanders faced continued assault through the courts.
“The Court of Appeal ruling earlier this month, which rejected Right to Life’s case, pointed out that the Abortion Supervisory Committee itself expressed disappointment in its 1999 report at a lack of legislative action on abortion,” she said.
“That Committee told Parliament abortion was a matter for the woman and her doctor, and the law should be changed accordingly,” Dr. Healey said. “But Parliament did nothing.”
Dr. Healey said the Court of Appeal noted that the Committee has highlighted problems with the law and made recommendations for reform in its reports to Parliament every year since 2000.
In its announcement today, Right To Life said it hoped to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling on several grounds, including the right to life of fetuses and embryos from conception – a claim clearly aimed at outlawing abortion in New Zealand. The Court of Appeal rejected this claim in its June ruling, as had previous courts and judges in this case.
The anti-abortion group is also appealing the Court’s decision that the Abortion Supervisory Committee shouldn’t be in the business of reviewing medical decisions made by certifying consultants, two of whom must approve every abortion performed in New Zealand.
“ALRANZ was relieved at that ruling, and is now concerned at the ongoing uncertainty over abortion access that a renewal of this court battle will bring,” Dr. Healey said.
For a timeline of the case, visit: www.alranz.org