WELLINGTON, New Zealand, June 9, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – New Zealand’s Green Party has released a controversial policy stating their aim to liberalize the nation’s abortion law as they prepares for a general election in September.
In a statement released Friday, the Green Party stated that they “will decriminalise abortion and assert the right of women to make decisions regarding their own health and the wellbeing of their [family].”
Controversially, in addition to removing abortion from the Crimes Act and legislating “to protect the right to have an abortion,” the policy makes provision for abortion after 20 weeks “in the case of severe foetal abnormalities.”
New Zealand’s Crimes Act, 1961 allows for abortion up until 20 weeks for incest, foetal anomalies, or if the mother has a disability. Abortion is also lawful throughout all nine months of pregnancy for the mental or physical health of the mother. Two certifying consultants must attest that the abortion will be lawful. The law also stipulates that a woman cannot be criminally charged for having an abortion.
Disability advocates and pro-life groups have been quick to express their concerns regarding the Greens new policy.
The group Saving Downs approached Green Party MPs indicating “that their policy breaches disability rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
Jan Logie, the Green Party’s women’s issues spokesperson, wrote on Facebook, however, that “the intent of the policy” was not to “allow abortions post 20 weeks based on disability.”
“The intent is to allow abortion after 20 weeks for a baby who has conditions so severe that they are extremely unlikely to survive post birth,” she wrote.
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But Dame Colleen Bayer, national director of Family Life International NZ, pointed out that even if the Greens are not targeting pre-born babies with Down syndrome or spina bifida, they are targeting those whose life may only be short.
“Pre-born babies who have been diagnosed with impairments or life-limiting conditions while still in the womb need to be protected,” she explained. “And their parents need all the support they can get to properly care for their child both before and after birth.”
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has responded to the Green Party’s policy by affirming his support for the status quo. “I think the balance is about right and I think we should just leave it where it is,” the National Party leader told Breakfast, TVNZ’s morning news show.
The Labour Party, the largest party in Opposition, favours taking the issue to the Law Commission to undertake a review.
However, Ken Orr, spokesperson for Right to Life New Zealand, is uneasy about the possible alliances between the Greens and Labour and where this may lead.
“Right to Life requests that the Labour Party now makes a public commitment not to enter into any coalition agreement with the Greens to decriminalise the killing of the unborn,” Orr wrote in a statement.
Liberalizing the abortion law by taking it out of the Crimes Act has been on the agenda for pro-abortion groups for some time. They argue that maintaining abortion in the Act increases stigma, impedes access, and makes abortion-seeking women into criminals.
The Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ), Family Planning, and the Women’s Health Council have all been working towards this goal.
Politically these groups have been joined by Young Labour, the youth arm of the leftist Labour Party. In May last year Young Labour asserted that they wished to make abortion law reform an issue for the general election that will be held in September this year.
ALRANZ has strong ties with the Green Party.