NZ Herald May 23, 2009
There were 18,380 abortions in New Zealand in 2007. The rate (20.1 abortions per 1000 women in the 15-44 age group) is high compared to other countries, putting us on a par with Australia, the United States and Sweden. Unlike those countries, we have what has been described as “one of the most restrictive pieces of abortion legislation in the Western world” – contained in the Crimes Act and the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act passed in 1977. Yet despite our draconian law – abortion is a crime unless it is authorised by two certifying consultants – we have one of the highest abortion rates in the world. What gives?
On June 9 2008, High Court Justice Forrest Miller gave voice to what some had suspected for some time – there is “reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants” in New Zealand. While Justice Miller’s judgment in the long running Right to Life New Zealand versus The Abortion Supervisory Committee sounds like a bombshell, it’s actually more of a damp squib.