Reviewing New Zealand’s abortion laws

The other day it came to my attention that an Oklahoma politician wants to pass a law, that requires women seeking an abortion to get permission from the man. I was shocked and posted it to my Facebook page. I honestly thought America had taken a big step backwards, until a contact advised that it had not yet become law.

However at a second glance of New Zealand’s 1977 Sterilsation, Contraception and Abortion Act, it would appear that all the fault’s raised about America’s abortion laws, New Zealand would do well to look at its own.

Pro-life organizations such as Right to Life however strongly resist this happening, saying that the sanctity of life from conception to ones natural death is endangered by abortion. On their website R.t.L. have the following stated aim:

To work purposefully towards, the achievement of the realisable ideal of no abortions within our society

There are however two massive and – in my view fundamental – flaws to Right to Life’s argument. First, Right to Life in no way acknowledge that a victim of rape or incest was subject to a grave criminal offence against her will. Second, if the female develops medical complications in any pregnancy brought on by the act of rape, again the choice as to whether she aborts or not should be hers alone. It should also be exempt in all respects from Section 187A of the Crimes Act (see below).

But New Zealand’s laws concerning are not so advanced as to considered perfect or even satisfactory for the purpose of maintaining an appropriate abortion regime. Section 18 of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act forbids abortions to be conducted after 12 weeks unless the medical practice conducting it has a full license. Those practices holding a full license may conduct abortions as and when the committee sees fit, irrespective of what stage the pregnancy is at.

At 20 weeks, unless the pregnancy falls into one or more of paragraph (1), subsections (a) to (d) of Section 187A of the Crimes Act, performing an abortion becomes an illegal act.

Consideration also needs to be given in the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977 to sex workers becoming pregnant to a client, whom they are unlikely to see again and may get no support from should they proceed to have the child.

Consideration also needs to be given in the same act for those children who may be born through no fault of their own to mothers under the influence of narcotics, or who have suffered abuse not necessarily through their own fault from these substances.

I believe that allowance needs to be made for the failure of contraceptive methods due to the whole purpose of those methods being to prevent pregnancy occurring in the first place. Abstinence, whilst practiced by many is a not altogether realistic expectation to be placed uniformly on society.

Therefore the case exists to reform the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act, 1977.

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