Late-term abortions dominated debate at first hearing on new law

Stuff co.nz 17 September 2019
Family First Comment: “The Abortion Legislation Bill would make late term abortions considerably more accessible than they are under the current law – currently it’s only available for exceptional circumstances – threat to life of mother or foetal abnormality. Polling Family First had commissioned showed very little support for abortions at 20 weeks and that about half of Kiwis thought that life began when a heartbeat could be detected at around six weeks.”
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Late-term abortions dominated debate at the first session of public submissions on the Government’s new abortion bill.

The only two submitters on Tuesday to the special select committee set up to consider the law were the two main lobby groups in the area – the pro-choice Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) and the pro-life group Family First.

The Government’s proposed law, which sailed through first reading 94 votes to 23, would take abortion out of the Crimes Act and remove the current legal hoops to abortion access for women up to 20 weeks of gestation.

Currently those seeking an abortion require legal certification from two consultants that having a child would damage their physical or mental health, with even more stringent provisions after 20 weeks.

The new law would allow abortions after 20 weeks if one doctor believed it was necessary to preserve the physical or mental health of the mother.

Abortions after 20 weeks make up a tiny proportion of abortions – just 56 were performed in 2018, out of a total of 13,282 abortions.

Despite this discussion of the topic made up much of the debate at the select committee on Tuesday afternoon.

Family First head Bob McCoskrie, who is deeply opposed to the bill and wants to make current abortion law more restrictive, also had a large focus on late-term abortions.

“The Abortion Legislation Bill would make late term abortions considerably more accessible than they are under the current law – currently it’s only available for exceptional circumstances – threat to life of mother or foetal abnormality,” he said.

He said polling Family First had commissioned showed very little support for abortions at 20 weeks and that about half of Kiwis thought that life began when a heartbeat could be detected at around six weeks.

Bellamak and McCoskrie both discussed the exact point at which human rights could be passed to a fetus.

“It is definitely live tissue, it definitely has its own DNA. But whether or not that tissue is a person is a matter of belief. And no one should be able to force their beliefs on someone else,” Bellamak said.

McCoskrie said a pregnant mother was “two bodies” and both had human rights.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/115855801/lateterm-abortions-dominated-debate-at-first-hearing-on-new-law

Late pregnancy abortions point of contention at Parliamentary Abortion Legislation Select Committee
Radio NZ News 18 September 2019
Abortions later in pregnancy was a major point of contention at the Parliamentary Abortion Legislation Select Committee.

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa and Family First New Zealand made their submissions on the Abortion Legislation Bill, which would remove the procedure from the Crimes Act.

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa president Terry Bellamak told the Select Committee she supported the bill overall.

Family First National Director Bob McCoskrie didn’t support the bill and argued to the Select Committee the changes would make late-term abortions more accessible and therefore more would occur.

“Currently it’s only available for exceptional circumstances, danger to the life and health of the mother, or the child.

“But in this bill after 20 weeks gestation, a baby could be aborted as long as the practitioner, who is going to perform the abortion and immediately there’s a conflict of interest, considers it appropriate in the circumstances.”

He said polling commissioned by New Zealand First showed very little support for abortions at 20 weeks.

He said he wanted to further restrict the pre-existing legislation from 20 weeks to the point where there is a foetal heartbeat.

Submissions on the bill are due Thursday, before a final report is made by the committee in February next year.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/399002/late-pregnancy-abortions-point-of-contention-at-parliamentary-abortion-legislation-select-committee

Divide on late-term abortions at Select Committee
TVNZ One News 18 September 2019
Abortions later in pregnancy was a major point of contention at the Parliamentary Abortion Legislation Select Committee.

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa and Family First New Zealand made their submissions on the Abortion Legislation Bill, which would remove the procedure from the Crimes Act.

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa president Terry Bellamak told the Select Committee she supported the bill overall.

But the organisation was backing option A from the Law Commission’s report, meaning there would be no statutory requirement and no specific legislation- it would instead be a matter between a pregnant person and the medical practitioner.

Family First National Director Bob McCoskrie didn’t support the bill and argued to the Select Committee the changes would make late-term abortions more accessible and therefore more would occur.

“Currently it’s only available for exceptional circumstances, danger to the life and health of the mother, or the child.

“But in this bill after 20 weeks gestation, a baby could be aborted as long as the practitioner, who is going to perform the abortion and immediately there’s a conflict of interest, considers it appropriate in the circumstances.”

He said polling commissioned by New Zealand First showed very little support for abortions at 20 weeks.

He said he wanted to further restrict the pre-existing legislation from 20 weeks to the point where there is a foetal heartbeat.
READ MORE: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/divide-late-term-abortions-select-committee

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1 comment for “Late-term abortions dominated debate at first hearing on new law

  1. Elizabeth Beirne
    20 September 2019 at 8:04 pm

    If the mother wants a child finding she is pregnant is the most happy , joyful , miracle. She is expecting a BABY. If not she is free to dispose of “a group of cells “,the contents of the womb”.

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