Forbidden subjects in NZ politics
Dominion Post 21 April 2012
…. A spokesman for Mr Key says that while the Adoption Act has not been amended for some time, there have been several reviews since 2000. The Government will consider whether adoption laws need updating “as other priorities allow”. In the run-up to last year’s election, Labour introduced its Rainbow policy, pledging to tackle the issue. But Mr Hague is critical. “On same-sex adoption Labour made a big deal just before the election, of course, to gay community audiences . . . but the fine print is, of course, that actually their policy is still to allow all of their members a conscience vote. “If you are not at least guaranteeing that your members of Parliament are going to vote for something I don’t know that the policy has a lot of meaning.” Labour’s social development spokeswoman, Jacinda Ardern, says it is likely to remain a conscience issue but stresses it is about “updating our law in its entirety… I would hate to see anyone narrow this issue”. Although her party made “significant amendments” to guardianship laws, work on adoption was never completed. “National has indicated that for them, it’s not a priority,” she says. “I do think that the fact this would require tackling the inequality in the law and the issue of same-sex adoption . . . is certainly a big part of why the Government hasn’t touched it, certainly Simon Power’s valedictory seemed to suggest that.” Former justice minister Mr Power retired last year, saying it was Parliament’s role to tackle the big issues. Gay rights advocate Rainbow Wellington has asked for meetings with MPs to discuss a law change. Chairman Tony Simpson says Labour and the Greens are “sympathetic”. “Really it requires one of those three main parties to pick it up. The National Party, we’ve had no response whatsoever. In fact, you could change the bit in specific relation to same-sex adoption very easily, just a fairly small amendment.” Lobby group Family First welcomes a debate – but argues same-sex adoption is an “adult- centred” policy which “harms children because it intentionally creates motherless and fatherless families . . . it is dangerous ground”.
…Recent figures show a decline in both the rate and overall numbers of abortions, with 16,630 terminations in 2010, down from 17,550 the year before. Right to Life recently released figures showing that between 2009 and 2011, 877 women were treated in hospital following complications after abortions. The group wants better reporting of statistics by the Abortion Supervisory Council. Family First says the number of abortions “represents the worst of child abuse” and wants the law amended to “protect the unborn from conception”. Dr Healey hopes the debate will shift from whether numbers are too high, to the impact “outdated” abortion laws are having on women.
…The subsequent furore and the departure of Ms Chadwick from Parliament will see the subject slide quietly off the radar, save for court battles between anti- abortionists and the Medical Council or the Abortion Supervisory Committee. “It’s going to take a real strong politician with some really strong support, either within the party or across parties to push through anything like that,” Dr Healey says. However, the Abortion Law Reform Association does see parental notification for under-16s seeking a termination as “a possible threat”. The move is supported by socially-conservative Cabinet members such as Judith Collins and Bill English. “From the intel we have had, Family First have had meetings with the prime minister on what their position is around the need for parental notification.” John Key’s office says he last met with Family First earlier this year and several issues, including parental notification, were discussed. The prime minister noted the group’s position “but no commitments were made”. Both National and Labour MPs exercise a conscience vote on abortion.