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Committee report calls for abortion law to be reviewed

Friday, February 3, 2017

Media Release

The Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) has released its annual report today  with a call for the 40 year old legislation which governs New Zealand’s abortion services to be reviewed.

Our chief executive Jackie Edmond has welcomed the ASC report and says New Zealand needs abortion laws and systems that reflect abortion as a health care issue.

“Our laws should be in line with current medical care and recognise women’s autonomy and rights,” she says. “We are delighted the ASC has called for abortion legislation that reflects both the health sector as it currently is, and modern society.”

Ms Edmond says Family Planning has identified a number of issues with our current legislation. Our laws are:

  • Old. This year it is 40 years since the law which governs abortion in New Zealand was enacted. Medical advancements have made the laws out of date and they don’t meeting today’s international agreements that  protect health and rights.
  • Discriminatory. The abortion laws are discriminatory to women, denying them the ability to make decisions about their own health and future.
  • Expensive. The two-doctor sysem costs around $5 million each year.
  • Inconsistent. No other medical care, where someone is able to give informed consent, needs two doctors to assess and approve it.

Ms Edmond says because abortion services in New Zealand are directed by an outdated law rather than by health professional best practice, women seeking an abortion must make multiple, medically unnecessary visits to health professionals, inevitably resulting in delays. And services are not provided consistently across regions leaving some women with few options.

“To me, this is much of the frustration, that so many agencies are working so hard to improve access to health services for women – yet our archaic legal framework for abortion remains and gets in the way.” 

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