Posted by: rmbrowning | May 15, 2009

Right to Life NZ versus The Abortion Supervisory Committee

In New Zealand it looks as though the issue of abortion may be coming to a head.  I for one am very interested to see how it all pans out and decided to post a bit of the story so far.  In June last year there was a review of the Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) where the High Court judge doubted the grounds of most New Zealand abortions and claimed the ASC weren’t doing their job.

He had this to say:

“There is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants.
Indeed, the [Abortion Supervisory] Committee itself has stated that the law is being used more
liberally than Parliament intended.”

Personally, I agree with him. Currently under the law an abortion is only justified if it “is immediately necessary to save the life of the patient or to prevent serious permanent injury to her physical or mental health.” (From the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act, 1977)

However, of the approximately 18000 abortions performed each year, nearly all are justified on the grounds of risk to the mother’s mental health. I find this dubious to say the least and think that consultants are freely reinterpreting the law to effectively give the country abortion on demand.  Justice Miller clearly thought so too and his ruling has made pro-life groups feel vindicated.  Earlier this week the ASC appealed the ruling and the group “Right to Life” cross appealed.  In the end it was chucked out because it was outside of the courts jurisdiction and many pro-choice groups are recommending the law is reviewed in parliament.

I’m very curious as to what happens next. Will this become a more publicly discussed issue and will we see a law reform?

I personally don’t have much problem with the law as it stands but what I don’t like are the rationalisations that we are dealing with something other than human life.  The aborted foetuses are produced by our reproduction, which makes them part of our species.  We shouldn’t get to decide who is or isn’t human.



  1. going for the big topics, aye! Indeed, a massive one. and hugely important, and you’re right about it being a reproductive issue (last sentence). For me that’s always got to be remembered right the way through. NZ 20-30-ish women (I hear) have some of the most sexual partners in the world? So called “sexual freedom”…

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