MEDIA RELEASE

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: www.alranz.org

Contact:

safeandlegal@gmail.com

New Zealand Herald
Jul 23, 2010

Women are waiting nearly a month on average to get an abortion – and they feel that is too long, research by Auckland University has found.

The study, published in the journal Reproductive Health, looked at the timeliness of services provided by nine New Zealand clinics.

More than half of women at the clinics were having abortions in or after their 10th week of pregnancy, with an average wait of 25 days after seeing their referring doctor.

Lead researcher Martha Silva said abortion was a safe procedure but the risk of complications increased with gestational age.

Clinics and referring doctors needed to make an effort to reduce waiting times, she said.

In an anonymous questionnaire, 38 per cent of women felt they had waited too long and would have wanted the procedure sooner, while 15 per cent thought the wait was too long, but did not mind waiting.

It was the first large-scale study of abortion services in New Zealand and highlighted the need for attention to women’s experiences while accessing the services, Dr Silva said.

Part of the delay was caused by the requirement to gain the approval of two certifying consultants before having an abortion.

Labour MP Steve Chadwick has proposed a change to the law to remove the requirement for patients to see two certifying consultants.

The proposal would also encourage abortions to be performed earlier in pregnancy, increase access to medical abortions, remove abortion from the Crimes Act and effectively allow abortion on demand to 24 weeks.