Monday, July 20, 2009

Abortion rights under threat

Abortion is back before the High Court, in a case which could see a dramatic restriction of a woman's right to an abortion. Following a ruling which impugned the legality of most abortions performed in New Zealand and a farcical appeal, Right To Life were back before the High Court today arguing that they should force the Abortion Supervisory Committee to act as "an advocate for the unborn child" and micromanage the medical decisions of certifying consultants. The decision has been reserved, but there's a real risk here of a restriction on abortion rights - which in turn means dangerous backstreet abortions, smuggled Chinese pharmaceuticals, expensive trips to Australia, and ultimately women being forced to have children they do not want.

That situation is likely to be even more unacceptable to New Zealanders now than it was in the 70's. If the courts send us back three decades, then Parliament must be prepared to legislate immediately to clarify the law and restore the status quo. In the longer term, as the fundamentalists are clearly not willing to respect our ugly compromise, then its time we overturned it, and joined the modern world by allowing abortion on demand.