Judge questions legality of abortions

NZ Herald June 10, 2008
A High Court judge has ruled that the abortion law is being used more liberally than Parliament intended. In a review of the workings of the Abortion Supervisory Committee, initiated by Right To Life New Zealand, Justice Forrest Miller said there was a reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions. Jusice Miller was delivering his judgment following a hearing at the High Court at Wellington in April. Right to Life had claimed the Abortion Supervisory Committee had failed to properly interpret the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act, so “full regard is given to the rights of unborn children”. It sought to find the committee had failed its statutory duty to review the procedure for abortions and enquire into the circumstances in which consultants authorised abortions on mental health grounds. It said the committee had failed to seek proper information on the mental health grounds from consultants. It also sought to find the committee had failed in its duty to ensure adequate counselling facilities were available.

….Right To Life and Family First today welcomed the decision. “It is the most important development in abortion law in New Zealand in the last 30 years,” Right to Life spokesman Ken Orr told Radio New Zealand. He said the court acknowledged that “we have abortion on demand in New Zealand”. Mr Orr said Parliament needed to give legal recognition to the unborn child – as a human being with human rights. “We would like to see greater protection to the rights of unborn children.” He said if the judgment was upheld then there would be a “substantial reduction of abortions in New Zealand”. Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the Abortion Supervisory Committee’s “lack of supervision and inaction” had led to abortion on demand. “As a result, approximately 18,000 abortions are performed every year, and since 1991, the number of 11 to 14-year-olds having an abortion has increased by 144 per cent. “The number of abortions for 15 to 19-year-olds has increased by 74 per cent.” Mr McCoskrie said each week, almost 80 teenagers had an abortion.

Doctors face sack over abortions

A judge has suggested the Abortion Supervisory Committee could dismiss doctors who are too liberal in permitting women to have abortions. Justice Forrest Miller, of the High Court at Wellington, said that although the committee had this power it had never used it.

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