Significant Interest in Abortion Law Review

Media Release 20 June 2018
According to information received from the Law Commission by Family First under the Official Information Act, the Law Commission has received almost 3,500 submissions regarding the abortion law review. 58 submissions were from organisations and the remaining 3,360 were from individuals / families.

“This is a very strong response given that submitters were only given six weeks to prepare their submissions. It also indicates that the Law Commission should be resisting the pressure from the government to railroad this issue. A Law Commission member said in a recent media interview that the reviews that the Law Commission do best are where they consider them at length. Yet the consideration of abortion laws was referred by the Minister at the end of February and is due back “within eight months”,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“There is also concerns about the directive given to the Law Commission by the Minister of Justice. In effect, what the government has given the Law Commission is not a request for a review and direction, but rather a specific direction on how to treat a social issue in law i.e. from both a health and criminal aspect to just a health aspect.”

“It is not a question of ‘may’ or ‘could’, but a directive with a specific outcome – “to align with a health outcome”. While the Law Commission has been asked to consult with the general public – albeit in a very limited time frame – there is no requirement on the Law Commission to have to take into account the wide range of issues raised on such a hugely controversial issue. There is no allowance for the possibility that the Law Commission may actually believe that the current law is the best available.”

“Therefore, the Government is not actually asking the Law Commission for a review. It’s an agenda or pre-determined outcome that the Law Commission must adhere to. This has the potential to create legal and ethical problems and ambiguities in the law.”

“It seems fairly obvious that the Law Commission is being used as a smoke-screen for an agenda being rushed through by a government. The Law Commission deserves more respect.”

Family First NZ is also questioning why the government is pushing the Law Commission to consider abortion laws over far weightier issues of property relationships, trust law reforms and the use of DNA in criminal investigations.

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