The justice minister of New Zealand has introduced a bill that would decriminalize abortion in the country, making it a health issue rather than a criminal one. Abortion is currently only legal in cases of incest, fetal abnormality, or a perceived health issue in the mother.
This is the first piece of pro-abortion legislation under Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, who promised to advance the abortion issue after winning the 2017 election.
Reuters reports that under the terms of the new bill, women less than 20 weeks pregnant would be able to obtain an abortion without prior approval from a doctor. After 20 weeks, notes The Guardian, at least one health practitioner would need to “reasonably believe the abortion is appropriate with regard to the pregnant woman’s physical and mental health, and well-being” before she could obtain an abortion.
The proposed legislation also stipulates the designation of “safe areas” around abortion facilities — akin to the frequently attempted “bubble zones” or “buffer zones” in the United States. This would prevent pro-lifers from providing much-needed guidance or counseling to women entering abortion facilities.
“Abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand. It’s time for this to change,” said Justice Minister Andrew Little, who is spearheading the bill’s advancement. “This bill will modernize the laws on abortion, by removing it from the Crimes Act and bringing the law into line with many other developed countries.” But what Little fails to mention is that abortion is a medical procedure unlike any other, with the express purpose of deliberately ending a human life.
According to Reuters, not all abortion supporters are happy. Some are disappointed that the abortion legislation only allows unrestricted abortions up to 20 weeks, calling the new bill a “mixed bag.” Here’s what 20 weeks looks like — a clearly human child with all her features:
A preborn child at 20 weeks can hear and begin responding to “a growing range of sounds,” according to the Endowment for Human Development. A child that age already has sweat glands, produces melanin, secretes insulin, and has a complete corpus callosum (the structure connecting both hemispheres of the brain).
National president of the pro-abortion group ALRANZ, Terry Bellamak, complained that while the pro-abortion law is “not as good as it could have been… it’s so much better than the status quo. We have to give the government props for that.”
In a press release, Voice for Life, a New Zealand anti-abortion group, expressed its disappointment in this new act of legislation. According to the organization, a 2016 Curia Market Research Poll found that 56 percent of New Zealand women stated that they wanted time limits on abortions to be shorter than the proposed 20 weeks. The group has also presented Parliament with a petition against this new legislation.
“New Zealand women and unborn children deserve better than an extreme abortion law, and we will be making it our mission to ensure that the voices of the voiceless vulnerable in our society will be loudly heard by Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Government,” said Voice for Life Media Spokesperson Kate Cormack.
The bill will have its first reading in Parliament on Thursday.
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