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New Zealand plans to ease abortion law

New Zealand plans to ease abortion law

New Zealand plans to ease abortion law

New Zealand has announced a proposal to legalise abortion for all women that would classify terminations as a health matter rather than a crime.

The current law says abortion is a crime and legal only in cases of incest, “mental subnormality” or foetal abnormality, or where the physical or mental health of the mother is at serious risk.

Other factors that may be taken into consideration include sexual violation and extremes of age, and the procedure requires the sign-off of two doctors.

Justice Minister Andrew Little announced the proposal that would bring New Zealand into line with many other developed countries.

“Abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand. It’s time for this to change,” Little said.

“Safe abortion should be treated and regulated as a health issue. A woman has the right to choose what happens to her body.”

Under the draft law, which will come before Parliament on Thursday, no legal test would be required for a woman wanting to terminate a pregnancy up to 20 weeks. 

Women would be able to consult abortion providers, bypassing the need for a doctor’s visit. They would be advised of counselling and support services but counselling would not be mandatory.

Women wanting to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks would need a health practitioner’s sign-off. They would need to “reasonably believe the abortion is appropriate with regard to the pregnant woman’s physical and mental health, and wellbeing”.

Safe areas of 150m would be set up around abortion clinics “on a case-by-case basis.”

The bill will be treated as a conscience issue, with MPs able to cast their votes independent of their political party’s position. Little hopes that it will pass into law before the end of the year.

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