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MPs Must Oppose Anti-Abortion Legal Challenge



10 May 2009                                                               Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ

MPs Must Oppose Anti-Abortion Legal Challenge


The Abortion Law Reform Association today called on Members of Parliament to publicly support the Abortion Supervisory Committee in its court battle this week against the anti-abortion group Right to Life.

“The Crown lawyers defending the ASC, and in turn the reproductive rights of New Zealand women, need to be given the full backing of legislators in the face of a case that is aimed at ending access to safe abortions,” Alranz president Margaret Sparrow said today.

The case, which began in 2005, will be heard Tuesday and Wednesday at the Court of Appeal in Wellington. At the hearing, the ASC plans to challenge a decision made last year in the High Court in which Justice Miller questioned the legality of many abortions in New Zealand. Right to Life is cross-appealing, essentially seeking to ban all abortions by arguing that embryos should be given full human rights. The group is also challenging abortion counselling in New Zealand.

“Right to Life has been able to advance this case, at great cost to the government and even greater risk to women, in part because of New Zealand’s inadequate abortion laws,” Dr. Sparrow said.

“Around 98% of abortions are granted under the mental health ground because New Zealand women do not have full reproductive rights,” Dr. Sparrow said. “It is this kind of legislative hypocrisy that groups like Right to Life continue to exploit through the courts.”

Dr. Sparrow said New Zealand should follow the Australian state of Victoria and decriminalise abortion, but until it did, Parliament must defend the status quo. “If not, there will be a return to the trans-Tasman abortion trade that flourished in the 1970s as well as to unsafe providers, do-it-your-selfers and over-the-Internet abortion pills.

For more information about NZ’s abortion laws, visit: www.alranz.org

For a timeline of the case, click on May 2009 Newsletter.




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