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Report Of The Abortion Supervisory Committee

Media Release
Hon Phil Goff

21 December 1999


REPORT OF THE ABORTION SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE

The Minister of Justice, Phil Goff, says he will recommend to Cabinet that there be a review of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act.

The Minister's statement follows the 1999 Report of the Abortion Supervisory Committee which expressed its frustration that repeatedly the Government and Parliament have ignored its recommendations.

"The truth is that current practice on abortion bears little relationship to the intention of legislators back in 1977 when the law was passed. The law has also failed to keep pace with technological changes.

"It is also clear that the existing law has failed to have any effect on reducing the number of abortions which have nearly trebled since 1980.

"Time and social attitudes have moved on. It is desirable that there be consistency between the law governing abortions and the practice.

"It is highly questionable whether the requirement for certifying consultants and the annual expenditure of $2.7 million on fees for these consultants serves any positive purpose.

"If the desire is, and it should be, to bring down the rate of abortions, then this considerable sum of money would be better spent on contraceptive education and provision to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

"My view is that the recommendations of the Abortion Supervisory Committee should be reviewed and legislation drawn up which if passed would give effect to those recommendations.

"As legislation relating to abortion is a conscience issue for Members of Parliament, it would be for individual parliamentarians to determine whether and in what form legislative amendments would be passed", Mr Goff concluded.

ENDS

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