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MPs Should Make An Exception For Conscientious Obstruction In Rape Cases

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa calls upon Parliament to approve the Supplementary Order Paper submitted today by Louisa Wall MP on the Abortion Legislation Bill, which requires survivors of sexual violence to receive access to emergency contraception free from obstruction by health practitioners on grounds of conscience.

“Under current law, doctors and pharmacists can refuse to supply emergency contraception (EC) to anyone on grounds of conscience. We believe Parliament needs to value the health and wellbeing of survivors over the psychological comfort of health practitioners in this one, narrow circumstance,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy, and it is time-sensitive – it’s most effective when taken within 12 hours of unprotected sex. It is unreasonable and cruel to force survivors to run around trying to find someone who will dispense EC to them. They should be able to access it on the first try. The last thing they need is further stigma.

“If our goal is to prevent abortions, then permitting conscientious obstruction for EC makes no sense. If our goal is to prevent further harm to survivors of sexual violence, then allowing conscientious obstruction in cases of rape is counterproductive and cruel.”

The Abortion Legislation Bill is expected to be debated this week in the Committee of the Whole House.

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act.

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion. Under New Zealand’s current abortion laws, two certifying consultants must approve every abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act. Those grounds do not include rape, nor the most common reasons cited overseas: contraception failure and the inability to support a child.

Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.

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