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ALRANZ Relieved to see Third Position of Abortion Supervisory Committee Filled
Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand
7 April 2011
The Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) is relieved that the third position on the Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) has finally been filled after the announcement in July 2010 that Dr Rosemary Fenwicke would not seek reappointment. ALRANZ was concerned that with only two people on the Committee, there was limited capacity to perform the core functions of the ASC.
The newly elected President, Dr Morgan Healey, commented that while little is known about the exact stance of Dr Tangimoana Frances Habib of Hamilton on the issue of abortion, it was important that the ASC was at full capacity. Dr Healey said, “With legal battles currently being debated in the Courts over issues relating to abortion, in particular Right to Life’s case against the ASC, it is incredibly important that the Committee be seen as accountable in administering its duties and meeting the demands of the medical services”.
With only two full time members, ALRANZ was deeply concerned about the Committee’s ability to adequately administer all its duties. “I am sure Dr Habib will be a welcomed addition to the understaffed ASC and provide the necessary medical knowledge that accompanies the role of Committee member”.
As part of the House’s proceedings for appointing a new member, Members of Parliament were able to offer their own views on abortion. ALRANZ was particularly pleased to hear Charles Chauvel, Labour MP, comment on the antiq uated nature of the current law. Echoing our own beliefs, MP Chauvel asserted that abortion was a health issue and does not belong in the Crimes Act.
Dr Healey added, “I applaud MP Chauvel for standing up in front of his peers and the public on the issue of abortion. Promoting a pro-choice position is not something many MPs are willing to do. As the movement grows within New Zealand for abortion law reform, it is heartening to know that decision-makers are sympathetic to the injustices that women face in terms of reproductive freedom. Particularly today with the appointment of Dr Habib to the ASC, I think it is an opportune moment for MPs and the public generally to examine the law and contemplate what the existing barriers to abortion services mean for women across New Zealand”.