Monday, May 11, 2009

Time to step up on abortion

Right To Life's court case against the Abortion Supervisory Committee is back before the courts this week, with the ASC appealing against Justice Miller's decision (based seemingly on nothing but his own prejudices) that there was "reason to doubt" the lawfulness of many abortions performed in New Zealand. Meanwhile, Right To Life are also appealing in an effort to get the foetus defined as a person whose life is protected under s8 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. The result will either confirm our policy of de facto abortion on demand - or see a dramatic restriction of abortion rights in New Zealand.

The Abortion Law Reform Association is calling on MPs to step up to defend the social consensus that has developed around abortion over the past three decades, and its a call I support. I know that MPs do not want to touch the subject with a barge pole, preferring to quietly support the status quo and not get into a pointless screaming shitfight with religious fanatics, but Right To Life's court case may deny them that luxury. If the worst happens and Justice Miller's ruling is upheld, women may not be able to freely access abortions in the way they do at the moment. Which means in turn dangerous backstreet abortions, expensive trips to Australia, dangerous smuggled Chinese pharmaceuticals, and women being forced to have children they do not want. Bill English may be happy with that, but it is not acceptable to the vast majority of New Zealanders, and hasn't been for thirty years.

If the case goes badly, then Parliament must be prepared to legislate immediately to restore the status quo. Patch-up legislation to clarify the law and restore the status quo in the wake of a court case is one of the few real justifications for urgency, and given the severity of the consequences, it would be entirely justified in this case.