Monday, March 13, 2017

If we want better abortion laws we need to change the government

In its latest report, the Abortion Supervisory Committee - the statutory body tasked with overseeing our abortion laws - called for the law to be updated to reflect modern healthcare methods and modern society. But the (Catholic) Prime Minister is clear: not on his watch:

Any review of abortion law is code for "liberalising it", says Prime Minister Bill English, and that's not going to happen on his watch.

The Abortion Advisory Committee is calling for an update of New Zealand's abortion laws, which are still part of the Crimes Act 1961.

But the committee's recommendations are unlikely to make any headway under a National government, as staunchly Catholic English says it's a "law that's stood the test of time".

I disagree. The law is an absurd relic which effectively requires women to declare themselves mentally ill to access a basic medical procedure. It fails to respect the fundamental right of women to control their own bodies. It was never fit for purpose even in the illiberal 70's, let alone now.

This law needs to change. If Bill English says his government won't do it, then we need to change the government. Alternatively, someone needs to bring a member's bill - but Labour has shown that it is too chickenshit to do so (notably by demanding Steve Chadwick pull her bill on the subject). Hopefully the Greens will put their ballot spaces where their mouth is.