Ardern’s pledge to decriminalise abortion sparks controversy

NZ Herald 5 September 2017
Family First Comment: Dear Jacinda
Will you allow abortions up to 40 weeks? Abortions for gender (e.g. not wanting a boy or girl)? Abortions for Downs Syndrome or other disabilities?

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern’s commitment to decriminalise abortion has already sparked controversy.

In the Newshub leaders’ debate last night she said she would remove abortion from the Crimes Act if she was prime minister.

“It shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act,” she said during the debate. “People need to be able to make their own decision.”

This morning on the AM Show she said it would be a conscience vote, where MPs could vote based on their views rather than along party lines.

She expected some of those within her own caucus would also oppose the bill, but thought “there will be a majority of Parliament that think, actually in 2017, women shouldn’t face being criminals for accessing their own rights”.

“That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have regulation that sits around it but we just don’t think it should be in the Crimes Act.”

But Family First NZ spokeswoman Marina Young opposed the announcement and said the existing safeguards protected both women and children.

“Any changes would potentially pave the way for late term abortions, aborting children on the basis of their gender, aborting those with disabilities e.g. Down syndrome, and possibly even partial-birth abortions,” she said.

“If Labour is really concerned about women, they should be calling for a law which protects informed consent, that requires honest information about abortion and abortion-related risks, and that provides women with independent pregnancy counselling so that women can make truly informed decisions from a place of certainty and knowledge.”

She said women who were getting abortions under the current guidelines were not committing an illegal act and were not considered criminals so there was no need for change.

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