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Abortion Supervisory Committee to appeal

2 August 2008

Media Release

Abortion Supervisory Committee to appeal Abortion Judicial Review Judgment to Court of Appeal.

Crown counsel acting for the Abortion Supervisory Committee has advised that the Committee had lodged an appeal with the Court of Appeal.

This appeal is from the judgment of Justice Forrest Miller delivered on 9 June 2008 at the completion of a Judicial Review of the Abortion Supervisory Committee in the High Court in Wellington.

The judgment found that “there is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants. Indeed the Committee itself has stated that the law is being used more liberally than Parliament intended” Justice Miller stated that ; “In my opinion , the statistics and the Committee’s comments over the years since the Court of Appeal made that observation do give rise to powerful misgivings about the lawfulness of many abortions. They tend to confirm Dr Forster’s view that New Zealand essentially has abortion on request.” The Court held that the Committee does in fact have the power to review and scrutinise the decisions of certifying consultants and to require them to keep records and question them on the use of the mental health ground to authorise 98% of the abortions in New Zealand.

The Committee seeks the reversal of the judgment in respect to the following specific grounds.

It is claimed that there was no evidential foundation for the Judge’s findings that “There is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants.”

It is claimed that there was no evidential foundation for the Judge’s finding that “The approval rate [for abortions] seems remarkably high, bearing in mind that under section 187A the consultants must form the good faith opinion that continuance of the pregnancy would result in serious danger to the mother’s health.”

The Committee claims that the Court erred in law in concluding that the Committee’s functions under the Act empower it to form its own opinion about the lawfulness of certifying consultant’s decisions.

Right to Life is confident that the Court of Appeal will uphold the judgment in respect to these important issues. It is the intention of Right to Life to cross appeal and re present our case denied in the High Court for the legal recognition of the status of the unborn child as a human being and a person endowed by its Creator with human rights, the foundation right being the right to life. Secondly there will be the opportunity to put before the Court of Appeal the issue which the Royal Commission considered important, whether abortion counsellors should be independent from abortion providers.

Right to Life had sought declaratory orders. The Committee has appealed to the Court of Appeal before Justice Miller had the opportunity to consider issuing orders in relation to the Committee’ function and duties. The question of orders is now a matter for the Court of Appeal to consider.


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