Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand

1 June 2011

ALRANZ Applauds Court Ruling in Abortion Case

ALRANZ tonight applauded the Court of Appeal judgment in the long-running anti-abortion court case as a victory for the reproductive rights of all New Zealand women.

“Today’s ruling issued by the Court of Appeal rejected a series of legal challenges to abortion access in New Zealand by the anti-abortion group Right to Life, which began in 2005,” ALRANZ president Dr. Morgan Healey said tonight.

“ALRANZ is heartened by the ruling, which will bring some peace of mind to both women seeking abortion care and doctors who help provide it,” she said.

The anti-abortion group’s claim that the fetus has a right to life under New Zealand law was firmly rejected by the court, as was the 2008 ruling by Justice Miller that there was “reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions”, she said.

Dr. Healey said that in rejecting the 2008 ruling, the court has ensured that doctors can’t be pressured or second-guessed over authorizing abortions.

“This is crucial for ensuring women continue to have abortion access under our criminalised abortion system,” she said.

Under New Zealand law, two certifying consultants must approve every abortion under limited grounds set out in the Crimes Act. Right to Life argued that many abortions were wrongly approved under the mental health ground, and claimed that the Abortion Supervisory Committee wasn’t doing enough to ensure the law was being complied with.

“The court has rejected those arguments, protecting the medical integrity of doctors and the work of the Abortion Supervisory Committee,” Dr. Healey said.

However, the fact that our law is constantly facing these kinds of legal challenges speaks to the need for abortion to be decriminalized in New Zealand, she said.

ALRANZ noted that Right to Life was ordered to pay costs in the case.

For a timeline of the case, visit: