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Judicial Review of Abortion Supervisory Committee

Media Release

High Court Judgment,  Judicial Review of Abortion Supervisory Committee –Declaratory Orders not Necessary, Judgment Sufficient.

Justice Miller delivered his judgment on 3rd of August in the High Court in Wellington. He has declined to issue declaratory orders concluding that they are unnecessary, as the Abortion Supervisory Committee [ASC] should now be fully aware of its statutory duties. He stated, “There is no reason to suppose that the Committee will refuse to act now that its functions have been clarified. It remains the case that the Committee can be expected to administer the law as Parliament intended.” The Committee is accountable to Parliament and it is expected that the appropriate Parliamentary Select Committee will ensure that the ASC holds certifying consultants accountable for the abortions that they authorise. Right to Life is confident that the Committee will now comply with its statutory duty to hold certifying consultants accountable for the lawfulness of the abortions that they authorise. This will hopefully herald in a new era in the care and protection of women and for the right to life of unborn children in New Zealand.
This judgment follows a hearing in the High Court on 20th July, 2009 when Justice Miller heard submissions from the Crown and Right to Life counsel on the question of declaratory orders.  The latest judgment acknowledges that the abortion legislation does assert a state interest in protecting the unborn child. “Further non-compliance has been material. I found that the Committee has failed over many years to exercise some of its statutory powers at all…. it is not possible to say how many unlawful abortions have been performed.”

Justice Miller in his judgment of 9th June 2008 stated that “there is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants. Indeed the Committee has stated that the law is being used more liberally interpreted than Parliament intended.” He also stated “The Committee does in fact have the power to require certifying consultants to keep records and report on cases they have considered.” “The abortion law certainly asserts a state interest in protecting the unborn child and not merely an interest that women may have safe and legal abortions. The law precludes abortion on request and as a matter between the woman and her own doctor.”


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