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Abortion a justice issue, not a health issue

Opinion Piece

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has written to the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, directing him to refer the abortion laws to the Law Commission for review and “how best to make changes to ensure New Zealand’s abortion laws are consistent with treating abortion as a health issue that is a reproductive choice for women rather than as a criminal issue”.

This letter was obtained by Right to Life on March 19 under the Official Information Act.

The Crimes Act 1961 recognises abortion as violence against women and their unborn. It is a serious crime in section 183 under Part VIII Crimes against the Person. This important protection for women and the unborn has been in the Crimes Act since 1856. Why does the Prime Minister now want the law to be changed so that the killing of an unborn child is no longer a crime but a health issue?

This is an unprecedented move in the parliamentary history of New Zealand. The unborn child is the weakest and most defenceless member of the human family, and deserves our respect and protection. The Government has no mandate for this ill-advised and unjust review. The review is being driven by Prime Minister Ardern, who believes that the killing of the unborn should not be a crime. She also wrongly believes that abortion criminalises women.

In response to a recent official Information Act request from Right to Life, the Prime Minister disclosed that she had no evidence to support her claims. Why then is the Prime Minister directing the Minister of Justice to conduct a review that has no mandate and cannot be justified in law or by evidence? Why too is there a deafening silence from the media who should be defending the human rights of mothers and the unborn?

This proposal will effectively mean that those unborn who are classified as unwanted will be deprived of the protection of the Crimes Act and allowed to be killed. However, the unborn children who are classified as wanted will retain the protection of the Crimes Act and of the State. This is an abhorrent and unprecedented violation of human rights; it is discrimination against the most vulnerable members of our human family!

Today, the Prime Minister moves the unborn from the protection of the Crimes Act, tomorrow, perhaps, those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The Crimes Act also protects the health and life of the mother. The decriminalisation of abortion will: Declare that the murder of the unborn is not a crime but a health issue. It will undermine the dignity and status of women and the respect that we should have for pregnancy and for the unborn child. It will expose women to increased violence and coercion to have their unborn child killed. It will empower men to insist that the mother abort her child to avoid his responsibility for providing maintenance for the child.

Any review should be seeking increased legal protection for the health and welfare of women and the right to life of the unborn. It should also be enquiring into why more than 500,000 innocent and defenceless unborn children have been killed in their mothers’ wombs since 1978, under a law which was intended to protect their right to life.

The law review violates the principles of the founders of the Labour Party who sought to protect the family and the right to life of every member of our community from conception to natural death.

Why is this once great humanitarian party now promoting an anti-life philosophy?