Abortion Law Reform 101

Why is Abortion Law Reform needed?

Currently, abortion is governed by the Crimes Act in Aotearoa. In practice, this means that a pregnant person seeking an abortion must seek and get the agreement of two Doctors to be granted access to an abortion. The law says that an abortion should only happen when continuing the pregnancy would present a serious danger to the pregnant person's physical or mental health. The process of seeking an abortion can be traumatic, lengthy, and does not always end in a pregnant person being able to access abortion services, even if this is what they want.

Some key issues:

  • The current law diminishes respect for the autonomy of the pregnant person to make their own decisions about their medical care
  • At present, it can be difficult for rural or low-income pregnant people to readily access abortion services
  • Often, Doctors and pregnant people have to lie (often about the mental health of a pregnant person) to fulfill the legal requirements of granting access to an abortion

You can read more about the current provisions for Abortion in New Zealand Law on the Family Planning Association's website here.

What would the Abortion Legislation Bill change?

The new Bill before parliament would remove Abortion from the Crimes Act, and would treat and regulate abortion just like every other health issue. It would completely remove the need for pregnant people to get doctors to agree that their mental or physical health is in danger to access abortion services. It would remove the need for a pregnant person to get a Doctor's agreement at all up until 20 weeks of pregnancy, where a doctor would need to agree for the abortion to take place.

It would also create the ability for designated safe zones to be created around abortion service providers, to prevent people accessing abortion services from being harassed by anti-choice protesters.

You can read more about the Bill's provisions by visiting this page (where you can also make a submission to the select committee).

Why and how should I make a submission to the Select Committee?

By submitting to the select committee, you are making sure that our parliament hears your voice on the future of abortion services in Aotearoa. Your submission can be as simple, short, or detailed and long as you would like. You can make a submission online and not speak to the select committee in person. If you want, you can choose to present your view to the select committee in person. 

If you're struggling for what to say, your submission could be as simple as "I support the legalisation of abortion."

If you want to make a more detailed submission, you could talk about any of the following:

  • Why you believe that pregnant people should be able to make their own healthcare decisions
  • Whether you believe that a 20-week threshold for involving a doctor is a good or bad idea
  • Whether you agree with the other provisions in the Bill (especially around conscientious objectors and designated safe zones)

You can visit younglabour.org.nz/abortion which will take you to the New Zealand Parliament website where you can submit directly to the select committee. If you want some more advice about what to include in your submission, or how to submit, flick our campaign team an email at [email protected]