The Green Party policy to make abortion safe and legal

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pro-choice

The Green Party announced on Friday that we will decriminalise abortion. This has prompted a huge amount of debate.

Abortion is always a tough subject. It’s an issue where people have very genuine and deeply held views, which I respect. This is the reason why political parties have always been so reluctant to discuss it, let alone make policy that addresses it.

But after a long and rigorous policy process, including consultation with membership, the Green Party has decided to take an honest approach to abortion and to treat it as the health and access issue that it is. We have become the first New Zealand political party to have policy around decriminalising abortion. This was always going to cause waves. But as someone involved in the writing of this policy, I am proud to be part of a party that was brave enough to look at updating legislation created in the 1970s and rewrite it, in an honest and transparent way, to make it fit for the 21st century.

At the heart of our policy is an assertion of the right of women to make decisions regarding their own health.

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The Green Party trusts women to get these decisions right.

Our policy will make the law honest, remove some of the judgement and discrimination that exists under the current law, and provide a better, safer and fairer environment for women and the medical profession.

There has been a lot of misinformation about our policy since we launched it on Friday, so let’s look at what our policy does and does not do:

1.      It decriminalises abortion. At the moment, abortion is a crime under the Crimes Act unless it fits into some very narrow criteria. Most women needing an abortion, and doctors signing those abortions off, are forced into a situation where they have to be less than honest to get around the law. You can see this in the stats that show 98 per cent of all abortions are allowed for “mental health” reasons. By decriminalising abortions up to 20 weeks, we are reflecting current practice, but making that practice honest under the law. This will remove some of the delays and stigma that add unnecessary trauma to what can already be a really difficult time in a woman’s life. By making the law honest, we also help ensure equal access to services, no matter where a woman may live.

2.      It asserts the right for women to choose. The Green Party trusts women to make the right decisions for them and their family/whanau. Decriminalising abortion asserts that right.  But we also want to put in place measures ensuring that women are enabled to choose not to have an abortion. For example, our policy states we will: Address concerns about pressure for and overuse of antenatal screening, which should be an individual choice, and ensure that parents are fully informed about available and potential supports for families and people living with disabilities.

3.      It maintains the practice where abortions are not legal, in most cases, post 20 weeks. Our policy is in line with current law and practice where abortions after 20 weeks are only granted when a woman’s life or wellbeing is in serious danger, or when the foetus has been diagnosed with an unsurvivablecondition which is incompatible with life.Late term abortions are incredibly rare and our policy won’t change that. In 2013, for example, of the 14,745 abortions undertaken, just 66 were for post 20 week pregnancies. Our policy does not encourage late term abortions of babies with Spina Bifida or Down’s Syndrome. In fact, our policy removes some of the status quo discrimination against people with disabilities, as I pointed out above.

4.      We maintain the right of a doctor to not sign off on an abortion. If a medical professional’s ethics prevent them from signing off on a termination, their rights are protected but they do have a duty to refer a woman on to another doctor in a timely manner that will not prevent the woman from accessing a termination.

5.      We are not creating abortion on demand up to 20 weeks. This is an accusation that’s getting some traction on the internet. Our policy clearly advocates for easier access to earlier terminations, especially medical terminations, which will be accessible to women whose pregnancies are 9 weeks or less, ensuring minimal risk of rare complications later in pregnancy. The vast majority of women seek an abortion before 12 weeks. Having equal access to early medical abortions will give women the ability to have an earlier termination. No one wants to have an abortion. Better access to earlier terminations will result in less complicated, less traumatic procedures, and will not result in abortions on demand.

6.      We are improving counselling and support for pregnant women. Our policy supports neutral counselling services. This means unbiased counselling and support around continuing with a pregnancy, considering adoption, or accessing a termination. We expect pregnancy services to ethically and empathetically provide unbiased information on all options, and offer support and practical assistance to women no matter what they choose. This includes cases where testing shows possible foetal abnormalities. We will ensure that families who wish to continue a pregnancy in these circumstances will not feel pressured into a termination.

The Green Party has led the political fight for the health and welfare of New Zealand women. We are the only party in Parliament where women MP’s outnumber men. We firmly believe the time has come for New Zealand to take an honest approach to abortion law reform and that we are the party to lead this.

Abortion is a difficult reality that has been around since humans started recording our history. It occurs at a time in a woman’s life that is almost always difficult, and it is never pleasant.

We, alongside almost every New Zealander want to see our abortion rates continue to drop. Alongside our policy on abortion is our policy on contraception (which is never foolproof). It outlines how important understanding of contraception is to further lowering abortion rates.

What we recognise is that women deserve equal access to legal medical care, and we firmly trust in women to make the right decision for them and their family. The law as it stands implies that women cannot be trusted. It forces women and doctors to be dishonest, which adds to the stigma they both feel as a result.

It is time to decriminalise abortion in New Zealand.

229 COMMENTS

  1. Good on Greens, this difficult issue needs a relook after all these years. What other areas of health and well being practice remain virtually unchanged since the 70s?

    I am one of those that supports a womens right to choose on contraception and abortion and also opposes capital punishment. Who said life is meant to be easy? It is obviously complex. Abortion is about individual female rights in a society dominated by a patriarchal world view.

    The anti choice and even agnostic lobby try and promote squeamish reactions. No one has abortions for fun but until womens fertility and sexual being is controlled by them not much is going to change.

    • Let me get this straight:
      You approve of Abortion: the killing of an innocent baby” But you oppose Capital punishment the killing of a convicted criminal.

      Doesn’t that strike you as a tad inconsistent and hyprocritcal?

      • Hey Rachel, I have a few problems with this law from what you have written above. If you could clarify some things for me that would be great.
        1: you said that the law would decriminalise abortions up to 20 weeks, do you consider Abortion a criminal offence?
        2: ” no one wants to have an abortion” (section 5). If no one wants an abortion then why would you even consider making it easier to have an abortion?
        3: “Better access to earlier terminations will result in less complicated, less traumatic procedures”. This worries me because it appears that you are fully aware that the procedure is dangerous and can cause more harm than good, so again why would you want to increase the ease of having the procedure?
        4: You state that you along with almost every other New Zealander would like to see the abortion rates drop. my question is why do you want to see the abortion rates drop? .

        I also would like to know if the Greens think a foetus is alive or not, and if so then at what point does the green party consider it alive.

        I hope I receive a reply soon

        Also just an observation, I am not Anti-Choice I am Pro-Choice but I choose to not accept abortion. also Pro-life people do not call Pro-Choice people, Anti-life so why is there an immediate negative connotation put on us?

  2. Thanks for the clear explication Rachael. And thanks Greens for your bold and much-needed step to treat those who are pregnant as moral adults who are able to make these decisions for themselves. I urge critics of the policy to read what the law says NOW by checking out section 187(A) of the Crimes Act 1961, which is online and google-able. It’s backward and offensive in more ways than one can begin to count. And, in the end, it reflects what 1977 politicians (83 men, 4 women, though all the women voted against the bill) thought about what “reasons” for having an abortion “should” be. It’s surprising that (some) people seem so willing to let MPs make these decisions, via this awful law. (And to the retort that the law is not being strictly adhered to, well let’s bring it into line with practice then!) MPs, of course, get to exercise their consciences on abortion. Pregnant people don’t.

  3. Hi Rachael,
    I’m wondering if you can clarify number 4 for me. I guess I might’ve been a bit hopeful in thinking that the policy would remove that clause where doctors could claim ‘conscientious objection’ and not put referral through to abortion service (instead only being required to say that they can seek referral from another doc or Family Planning). Did I just read it wrong or did the wording change? This isn’t the same thing as ‘signing off an abortion’. The NZMC should never have backed down and allowed doctors to conscientiously object to referring to the service IMO. Are the Greens not going to address that? It puts barriers in place for women who want to access the abortion service as early as possible. They have to make *another* appointment with another practitioner who they just have to hope are pro-choice enough to actually do the referring.
    I would like to see that change and I thought the Greens did too.
    Nikki

  4. OK, I probably should’ve read up on what the heck I was talking about. My preferred option for conscientious objection is even more radical than what the Medical Council was aiming for. So I take it back. It should be as the Greens and law (Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003) says: that docs need to refer to other docs/Family Planning.
    I’ll stand by my statement that I think they should refer to the abortion service but I got the rest wrong. Sorry about that!

  5. It should be noted that the Green Party has a very democratic approach to policy making with members invited to participate in policy groups they are interested in. Anyone who joins the Greens can make a real difference.

    • Do we know how many people with prenatally detectable disabilities were involved in the development of the policy?

      I hope we will see a revised policy that removes the distinction on gestational limits based on “fetal abnormality”. This blogs introduces a different term “incompatible with life”. Was there a mistake in the original wording, or a change following complaints from the disability sector?

      It seems odd that a prohibited ground of discrimination would be introduced into a Green Party policy. Let’s hope it’s retracted.

      • This might surprise you, but it was written by two people with prenatally detectable disabilities.
        This policy does not promote terminations of disabled foetuses. We will not put forward any legislation which breaches conventions. We will also, as stated in the policy, put practical and neutral assistance in place for potential parents who have received bad test results, because we do not want families to feel pressured to have an abortion when they wish to go to term.
        We want to reduce the amount of terminations.
        What we don’t want to do is force a couple of women a year to go full term, when they would rather deliver earlier. Everyone’s forgetting viability. So what we are in reality talking about here is an inducement of an early delivery. Some families can’t cope with waiting 40 weeks for a baby who will die, and would rather deliver baby early, in the viable zone. If baby makes it – that’s absolutely fantastic!!! We are NOT talking about abortion like in the alarmist pro-life leaflets where brains are apparently punctured etc and the baby is ‘killed’ before delivery.
        I know a couple who went through this experience, it was incredibly emotional, loving, caring laboured live birth at 32 weeks, and as expected baby died 10 minutes later, cherished forever. I don’t think it’s fair to couples to deny them that option.

        • Maybe, I should have said how many people with Down syndrome, since they are the biggest group affected by prenatal discrimination in New Zealand, but that’s an ongoing issue of debate we won’t resolve here.

          I’m looking forward to the formal pubic statement from the Green Party that will address the errors and/or changes in the published policy and press release from last Friday. That would be good to have behind us.

        • Premature delivery when the baby might survive, e.g. if the prenatal diagnosis is incorrect or overly pessimistic, is not quite the same as induced abortion where a live baby is a “failed abortion”. In late term abortions, to ensure the baby does not survive the baby is given a lethal injection to the heart while still in the womb. I know of one baby in NZ that died this way at around 31 weeks. The dead baby was then supposed to be born via induced labour. The induction didn’t work so the dead baby was delivered via Caesarian three days later. If she had been induced early while still alive she could well have lived months or even years. The parents were shocked at how normal their supposedly malformed baby looked and refused an autopsy so I don’t know if the very late prenatal diagnosis was correct. This was initially a very much wanted baby but sadly fear and poor advice from doctors destroyed any chance of hope and life.

  6. Hi there. Please can you tell me what your justification is for abortion as you cannot deny that it kills the fetus. Therefore it ends a human life. If it ends a human life then it must be wrong? Regardless of how noble the reason might seem.

    • It’s not ‘her’ justification. It’s each individual woman’s choice, that’s the whole point of any pro-choice policy.

      Either abortion is illegal and people therefore resort to performing illegal abortions, or its legal and people can get the care they need during this trying time. Prohibition will not stop abortions, it will only stop safe abortions.

      • There’s no such thing as a “safe” abortion for the young one ( meaning of the word foetus). It also carries risks for the mother and future children.

      • Firstly currently legal abortions are accessible in NZ so from that point of view nothing needs to be changed.

        Secondly abortions ought to be illegal (except perhaps in extreme circumstances such as when the mothers physical life is in danger) because it is the killing of an innocent human life.

        There is no such thing as a safe abortion it always ends in death.

    • yeah it is not ending human life cos GUESS WHAT: the fact is that a fetus is not a baby. You are not killing human life. It is a women’s choice, as someone who has had an abortion, I made the right decision, I was not being selfish or killing fucking babies I was making a realistic choice for myself at 18 years old with no means to support a child.

      • Chloe, I appreciate that your intention at 18 was just to end your pregnancy. I can only assume you were not given accurate information if you were unaware that the process kills a living, growing human. If the child in the womb is not alive and growing there would be no “need” for an abortion.

      • Yes-as a pro-life feminist-I am fed up with this out-dated notion that it is a “woman’s right” to abort-it is a woman’s right to keep her baby and be supported by society to have the baby no matter the circumstances……abortion doesn’t give women freedom or choice-it causes (and this is evident even in countries where abortion is a method of contraception) psychological harm (it is not natural for women to abort) and breeds generations of irresponsible men who think abortion will fix their problem of having got a woman pregnant…..”In recent years, some feminists have recognised the sheer injustice of asking a woman to abort her child in order to participate fully in society; in the words of the New Zealand feminist author Daphne de Jong: “If women must submit to abortion to preserve their lifestyle or career, their economic or social status, they are pandering to a system devised and run by men for male convenience….” My thoughts exactly…why should women have to bow to such narrow constraints set by society on when it is “best” to have a baby….let us have out babies! (And even if they’re disabled…..!!)

        • I don’t disagree with a lot of what you’ve said. Nobody wants abortions. The Greens don’t want to encourage abortion. If you read our Women’s policy in it’s entirety and not just this one section you’ll find the whole policy fights for a society where women can indeed have their babies. But in the meantime, we want safe, accessible, unbiased service provision for women who don’t yet have the power and choices feminism, the Greens and I want them to have.

          • Rachael, don’t be naive. Of course there are people who want abortions. Abortions can be very profitable for abortionists and they can remove the evidence of illegal and/or immoral acts (think rape, incest, adultery etc) which can be very convenient for the man involved. And then there are the manufacturers of antenatal screening who know that if enough women get abortions on the basis of the results then governments and health insurance firms will fund the tests because they are more “cost effective” than paying for the extra health,education and welfare costs that a person with disabilities may need.

            • I’m far from naive. And you’re purely scaremongering. ‘Abortionists’work for DHB’s. And it’s not usually their only role at the hospital. They get paid what doctors get paid by the govt, they aren’t there to get rich from performing more abortions.
              Are you seriously suggesting a good reason for a violated woman to keep her baby is so the baby’s DNA can help get a conviction??!!!! a. foetus’s have DNA, and b. so being born in a toilet, smothered by your mother and buried in the backyard, as we have seen happen in NZ too many times recently, is your preferable scenario??!!
              Your last top of screening manufacturers is based on hyperbole in the US, and not the case here, also this policy plus our disability policy makes very clear that we will discourage coercion to abort based on unfavourable test results.

              • Being pregnant is a privilege and an awe-inspiring experience and one not to be taken for granted. I am glad I’m a woman.
                Merrial, have you never experienced pregnancy and birth?

              • Rachael, certifying consultants, some are also the abortionist, can earn a lot of money. http://righttolife.org.nz/2013/06/27/the-price-we-put-on-the-head-of-our-unborn-children/
                I was suggesting that it is to the benefit of the man that a pregnancy resulting from incest or rape, is eliminated as early as possible. Not only can it remove evidence but the girl/woman is once again available to be sexually abused.
                Re prenatal screening, of course it is the case here. A paediatrician I know said even ultrasound scans wouldn’t be publicly funded if there wasn’t money saved by doing them. There are explicit references to saving money in official reports on the subject. I think I probably have read far more widely on the subject than you have.

                  • From a source that is in favour of changing the law:
                    “The current abortion service is costing NZ taxpayers over $5 million a year in consultant fees. There are 176 certifying consultants on the ASC’s list of practitioners who act as consultants for women considering a termination of pregnancy. The CS&A Act requires that a woman see two certifying consultants who must both agree that she has legal grounds for an abortion. (In 2009 17,230 of the 17,550 abortions were granted on the grounds that there was a danger to the mental health of the mother.) Each consultation costs $135.” http://www.womenshealthcouncil.org.nz/Features/Womens+Health+Issues/Abortion.html

          • Rachael,
            Firstly I applaud many of the Greens policies with respect to improving the welfare of women and children. NZ’s statistics on child abuse and child poverty are appalling and much much more needs to be done.

            But it is because I believe all children have the right to looked after, loved, cared for and supported that I am against the killing of nearly 15,000 children a year.

            How can you promote policies to protect and care for children on one hand and at the same time want to make it easier to kill children by the thousands?

            Does this not strike you as the least bit inconsistent and hyprocritcal?

        • @Valueall: “-I am fed up with this out-dated notion that it is a “woman’s right” to abort”

          Perhaps you haven’t properly read what the Greens are proposing?

          “it is a woman’s right to keep her baby and be supported by society to have the baby no matter the circumstances”

          Thanks to the political earthquake of Rogernomics 30-odd years ago, this society is one in which neo-liberal values predominate. Maybe you’ve found some other society where this happy state of affairs you write about prevails. But it sure as hell ain’t here. And any chance that activism would bring it about was lost many years ago – possibly before you were born, if you don’t recall the arrival of Rogernomics.

          “…in the words of the New Zealand feminist author Daphne de Jong…”

          Surely you aren’t expecting us to take this woman seriously as a feminist? She writes for Mills and Boon. Don’t misunderstand me: I have no criticism of M&B, or of its output, even though this stuff isn’t my thing. But M&B is hardly a flagship publisher for feminism. And Ms de Jong is hardly a standard-bearer for feminism.

          ” “If women must submit to abortion to preserve their lifestyle or career, their economic or social status, they are pandering to a system devised and run by men for male convenience….” ”

          There’s a paradox here: many of the most vocal opponents of abortion are men. And many of those men have commented here, and on other blog posts dealing with this topic. It seems that women can’t win either way.

          That being so, I’d plump for legalisation, so that women who want or need abortions for any reason at all, have easy access to safe, legal services, with as few legal constraints around those services as is consistent with clinical safety.

          • Many of the people who work to get abortion laws changed are also men; men who profit from doing abortions on vulnerable women. How empowering is that? Oh and if you want abortion with few restraints think of where that leads to. Kermit Gosnell is just one example of a profiteering abortionist who cared so little for women that his premises were disgustingly filthy and unhygienic and he got away with it for years. Baby Killing Centres in the USA are closing because abortionists don’t want to spend the money to get them to the same health standards as genuine life-saving surgical units

    • Paul, you see this issue in very black and white terms, predicated on a misapprehension that a fetus is a human life. I would suggest that there is more to being human than a collection of cells that has yet to develop consciousness, memory, personality, emotional responses – in short, a person.

      A woman is quite a bit more than just a perambulating biological incubator.

      • The offspring of a male human and a female human is always human. 100% of the time. You seem to be saying that a human fetus is not actually human… which is absurd.

        A fetus is a human. All humans are persons. (If you disagree with that, can you tell me why a human fetus is not a human person? Are there any other humans who aren’t persons, or is it just fetuses?)

        All persons have the right to be safe from having their lives terminated for somebody else’s convenience.

        It’s the 21st century – pro-abortionists can’t play the “it’s not a human being” card any more. The science is clear.

        • The science was also very clear that the unborn child is a human being back in the 1970s when the CS&A act was passed.

      • It is black and white. Either abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, in which case it can never be justified (because civilised societies don’t allow that kind of thing) or it is not the killing of an innocent human being, in which case there can be no restrictions on it – forget all this 20 weeks, only-if-severe-abnormality stuff.

        Also: what is your evidence that a fetus doesn’t have consciousness, memory etc? Even if those things defined personhood (they don’t), you’re making a claim with no evidence (that I can see) to back it up.

  7. The logic behind decriminalising abortion is flawed. Just because a law is broken doesn’t necessarily mean it should be done away with. People break all sorts of laws all the time but that shouldn’t justify legalising criminal behaviour. In the case of abortion what the Greens want legalised is the killing of a developing human being for any reason who, while sharing some of the mother’s genetic make up and residing within her body, is NOT part of her body.

    And why are the Greens so keen on medical abortions and hormonal contraceptives? The artificial hormones used are classed as Class 1 carcinogenicity, i.e. cancer causing. Why be concerned about what excreted hormones do to fish etc in our waterways and be so unconcerned about what they do to women?

    Rachael, your sentence that starts, “Abortion is a really difficult reality….” Would also apply to rape, child abuse and neglect etc but I would hope the Greens don’t plan on having policies to decriminalise those.

    Women are not perfect. Women can and do make mistakes, including the mistake of allowing their children to be killed via abortion because they have caved in to fear and pressure (often from the baby’s father or in the case of prenatal diagnosis from doctors).

    If you want to treat abortion as just another health issue then why not have a waiting list and limits on how many procedures can be carried out in a given year? Chances are this would give many women much needed time to reconsider and accept the baby they are carrying, even if the baby has a congenital abnormality.

    Finally as the mother of a baby who died a week after birth, I can tell you that it is much better for the parents’ mental health if they can grieve knowing they did what they could to enable their child to live. Doctors are not God; they can and do make wrong prognoses.

    • Errrr not really, most women make the choice to have an abortion cos guess what they simply did not want a baby, and this should be a good enough reason. Or maybe she could not financially support her child, and what with the dismantling of our welfare state by the national government raising children is only going to get harder.

      I had an abortion I feel no guilt, I have had no regrets and I am still, 10 years on, happy with my choice.

      • So sad that you didn’t consider adoption and that money is more important than a child’s life. Surely the solution would be to lobby the government for adequate welfare support, not make it easier for them to avoid responsibility. Abortion is a very “cost effective” compared to caring.

          • In what way was I parroting pro-choice rhetoric? If you are totally happy with any decisions you have made then you should be immune from efforts at guilt tripping, which wasn’t my intention anyway. However feelings of guilt, whether justified or not, are often a part of grieving and many women do grieve for the babies they aborted and regret their decision. There’s an organisation called Silent No More founded by women who regretted their abortions.

            • Just because some women regret their decision to abort doesn’t mean all women do. Some women who decide against abortion, or even those who decided to have children may regret their decision. Formulating a policy that allows women to have knowledge, choice and options doesn’t mean that more women are going to have abortions, it means that more women are going to be informed about their choices.

              While adoption might be an option, it still means that you have to carry a baby to term and it is still a massive impact on your life. At the end of the day, any abortion policy is about a women’s right to choose whether to keep the child or whether to abort, and the services that this policy would emphasize means that those choices are more informed and that women are more supported through this decision.

              • And an abortion won’t have a massive impact on your life? Even if you are totally happy with your decision your life will be different to what it would or could have been.

              • If you re-read what I wrote, I said the word MANY, not most. Of course it could well be that most women regret their abortions but I don’t know if it is.

        • Stella McLeod says:
          June 10, 2014 at 9:43 pm

          So sad that you didn’t consider adoption and that money is more important than a child’s life.

          So sad that you feel justified and comfortable commenting on someone else’ most personal life-decisions.

          It would never occur to me that someone elses’ most personal decisions were any of my business, unless they asked for advice.

        • @ Stella McLeod: “So sad that you didn’t consider adoption…”

          I was really hoping that you wouldn’t raise this. Being obliged to give up one’s child for adoption is inhumane beyond words. The effects of it reverberate throughout people’s lives, even to the next generation. Adoption isn’t a solution to the ever-present issue of unexpected and unwelcome pregnancy.

          • You are right that the effects of adoption carry on to the next generation. Because they were given life adopted children can grow up to become parents and grandparents. Birth mothers of adopted children unselfishly do what they think of is best for their child and these days they are encouraged to have open adoptions so they can have ongoing contact with their child. I am the mother of two adopted children and I know several people who are adopted and several who placed their babies for adoption.

            Unlike abortion, adoption is a choice that literally both the mother and baby can live with.

            • @ Stella McLeod: “Birth mothers of adopted children unselfishly do what they think of is best for their child…”

              So: I take it that you yourself have never been obliged to give up your baby for adoption. You don’t really know what it’s like, then…

              • I appreciate that in the past women were often pressured to place their child for adoption. This is not the case any more. As I said I know women who have placed their babies for adoption. It is not an easy decision, but neither is abortion. It is however a CHOICE some women make and shouldn’t people who are “pro-choice” respect that?

          • Merrial, I also gave up my baby for adoption {40years ago now}. It was extremely hard at the time, but life went on and it was good. Twenty years ago, my daughter contacted me and we now have a very good relationship. We also have a great relationship with her adoptive family. I do not have any regrets at giving her up for adoption. Aborting was never considered, which I am very pleased about, as knowing now, what I know about the subject, there is no way I could have murdered my baby. Also with what is now called ‘Home For Life’, the birth parents can be involved in the life of their child when they give it up. This would have been ideal for me if it had been available 40 years ago. The children I now have are quite happy to call my birth daughter, their sister. As well, the rest of my extended family are also happy to include her in their families. I really do think your word INHUMANE is a bit strong. But I am very sorry for you as it sounds as though you had a very bad time and are still hurting.

    • @ Stella McLeod: your objections are religious in nature, whether or not you are aware of it. I’m happy for you to hold such views, but they can’t be used as justification to restrict access to abortion. This is a secular society, and our legal system should reflect that.

      It’s really not your business if other women want to have an abortion, or what their reasons may be. Please keep your objections to yourself. Other women are grown-up; they must be free to make their own decisions, and learn to live with any mistakes they make. You can’t protect them from what you may believe are wrong decisions; nor should you be trying to do so.

      • Merrial, does your comment mean that we, because we are women, are totally free to do what we like regardless of what the law says or regardless of the impact on other people? Does the same reasoning apply to men?

        Since NZ laws have been influenced by Judeo-Christian ethics (Eg Ten Commandments) which other laws do you think we should do away with?

        • @ Stella McLeod: “Since NZ laws have been influenced by Judeo-Christian ethics (Eg Ten Commandments)”

          Judeo-Christians didn’t invent the 10 commandments; go read up about Buddhism. These precepts clearly have a deep history, and predate modern organised religions. Not all of them underpin our laws: we don’t have laws against adultery, or making graven images – or coveting other people’s stuff, for instance.

          In any event, this judeo-christian schtick is a straw man argument on your part. We aren’t talking about other laws; we’re talking about abortion. Other forms of contraception aren’t illegal; there’s no in-principle difference between abortion and other contraceptive methods.

          Therefore it’s inconsistent and ultimately unsustainable for abortion to be illegal. You may not like it; it may offend your religious sensibilities, but there it is. We live in a secular society; our laws must reflect that.

          • Buddhism is also a religion. However I largely agree with you that “there’s no in principle difference between abortion and other contraceptive methods”. I differ in that while abortion may be used as a “contraceptive” it never prevents conception but destroys a life that has already been conceived (conception being the moment when an ovum and sperm join to create a new unique individual – scientific fact) as indeed do some of the hormonal methods at least some of the time. This is why more contraception does not equal fewer abortions.

        • Stella McLeod says:
          June 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm

          Merrial, does your comment mean that we, because we are women, are totally free to do what we like regardless of what the law says or regardless of the impact on other people? Does the same reasoning apply to men?

          No, the same reasoning doesn’t apply to men. There are no laws enacted by Parliament governing our reproductive capabilities. (The age of consent applies to both genders and sexual orientations.)

          • Frank, all the babies who are aborted had fathers. So even though men are not included in the law (their role as fathers were ignored) men will be affected by the woman’s decision as to whether she carries her baby to term or not. How they are affected will vary depending on their own views and of course whether the baby lives or dies via abortion.

      • 🙂 It’s always the pro-abortionists who bring up religion.

        http://www.secularprolife.org/ shows that the arguments against abortion are not religious in nature.

        It’s a question of philosophy, not religion. Neither is it a question of science – we can video the moment of conception. The science is settled. Genetic material from two humans fuses and forms a new human being. Those who wish to justify abortion must explain why that embryonic human does not have human rights as a human person.

        Where did this come from, by the way, this idea of a new class of “human non-persons”? Or is it in fact a new idea? Haven’t we seen it before, all through human history, to justify the killing of inconvenient people who get in the way of what we want?

        • @ Sam: ” It’s always the pro-abortionists who bring up religion.”

          You need to look more closely at many of the comments here. Any Catholic’d recognise them instantly as religious objections; and that includes those of the so-called “humanists”.

    • Of course it’s her body and a fetus is not viable without her. In fact for the most part a child’s survival is dependent on it’s Mother and the support she gets so women should be treated with more R E S P E C T for their decisions and a lot more than you are showing.

      • Scientifically mother and baby have different DNA, so before birth the baby is living IN the mother’s body is but is not her body. Women are not allowed to have internal organs or limbs removed just because it’s their “choice”. In fact the “My Body My Choice” was a cynical slogan dreamed up by illegal abortionist Bernard Nathanson as part of the efforts to legalise abortion in the USA. He succeeded, but later regretted the part he played.

        • Stella McLeod says:
          June 11, 2014 at 3:41 pm

          Scientifically mother and baby have different DNA…

          Whut?!?!

          Stella, where are you getting your science-information from?

          Women are not allowed to have internal organs or limbs removed just because it’s their “choice”.

          ?!?!

          Tonsils?

          Appendix?

          “Face lifts”?

          “Boob jobs”?

          Warts?

          Cancerous tumours?

          Cancerous organs?

          so before birth the baby is living IN the mother’s body is but is not her body.

          ?!?!

          So how long would a foetus survive without sophisticated medical intervention/

          And really, Stella, you’ve just advocated for abortion without realising it. If the foetus is not her body – simply remove it from the woman and let the foetus get on with living by itself…

    • In the case of abortion what the Greens want legalised is the killing of a developing human being for any reason who, while sharing some of the mother’s genetic make up and residing within her body, is NOT part of her body.

      ?!?!

      Really???

      So if you extract a fetus from a woman’s body, it can survive independently, without massive technological intervention (ie, an artificial womb) I think you might want to reconsider your views, as I did, over 30 years ago.

      It’s nonsense like that that made me think a little more rationally on the matter.

      • Actually, Frank, if the foetus is extracted from the womb late enough he or she can indeed survive without massive technology. It’s usually called birth and the mother is usually able and willing to feed and care for her own baby. If she can’t other people can via adoption or fostering.

    • Women are not perfect. Women can and do make mistakes, including the mistake of allowing their children to be killed via abortion because they have caved in to fear and pressure (often from the baby’s father or in the case of prenatal diagnosis from doctors)

      That’s quite an assumption, Stella. How many medical consults do you sit in with other women that you’ve been able to arrive at such a ‘safe’ conclusion?

  8. Saving Downs is encouraging our New Zealand supporters to contact Green MP Jan Logie directly if they have concerns over the Green’s new policy to expand disability selective abortion from the current 20 week legal limit, to “beyond 20 weeks” (no limit is stated) – as per their press release (referencing “serious fetal abnormality” – a term widely applied in practice in NZ to include Down syndrome).

    “The Green Party’s policy would allow terminations after 20 weeks gestation only when the woman would otherwise face serious permanent injury to her health or in the case of severe fetal abnormalities”.

    The policy also breaches the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The committee has already ruled that differentials in gestational limits for abortion based on disability and “serious fetal abnormality” are in breach of the CRPD and NZ’s obligations to disability rights under the international treaties.

    Un report, paragraphs 17 and 18 http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCUQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ohchr.org%2FDocuments%2FHRBodies%2FCRPD%2F6thsession%2FCRPD.C.ESP.CO.1_en.doc&ei=CnSWU7LKN8qQlQXWvoCwCw&usg=AFQjCNGLoxWOnnV5eN1jpcAAggva7dvRzA&sig2=YzHNQNbd7jJbFVJ-zfXMmQ&bvm=bv.68693194,d.dGI

    • What “committee” is it that has decided this? Your heavily biased committee, of no legal standing?

      • Yes, it’s called the UN. It sits in Geneva. If you follow the link, you will see their report. The Green Party has a policy of recognising and abiding by the rulings of this committee.

  9. Point 3 in the blog contradicts the policy on the Green Party web site and press release. Has the policy been changed, or was there an error with the published content and the press release.

    The policy and press release says “The Green Party’s policy would allow terminations after 20 weeks gestation only when the woman would otherwise face serious permanent injury to her health or in the case of severe fetal abnormalities.”

    Pony 3 here says “when the foetus has been diagnosed with an unsurvivable condition which is incompatible with life. “, which is entirely different.

    The term “severe fetal abnormality” – is widely applied in practice in NZ to include Down syndrome.

    So, which is it? “severe fetal abnormality” as per the policy and press release, or “an unsurvivable condition which is incompatible with life. ” as per this blog.

    It all looks very confusing and sloppy, now that we are being told things that are different than the press release.

    • “The term “severe fetal abnormality” – is widely applied in practice in NZ to include Down syndrome.”

      No – that is YOUR definition. It is not widely accepted. I put it to you that you are simply using this and other forums to push your support group. That is not right to do that in the debate on such a serious topic.

      • To be fair, it is not my definition, it is the definition used and applied by medical practitioners in New Zealand and the exact definition used by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – who have already ruled that any difference in gestation limits based on fetal adnormality breaches the CRPD. I have posted the link tot the UN report in another comment and provided it to Green MPs so that they can consider the issue.

        I agree that this is indeed a serious topic and one would expect the Green Party to be clear in getting their wording right and in compliance with the UN treaties. It will be interesting to see if the policy is reworded to the new definition in this blog, as opposed to an entirely different definition in the Green’s Press Release and published policy.

    • The term “severe fetal abnormality” – is widely applied in practice in NZ to include Down syndrome.

      Rubbish.

      I challenge you to provide evidence for that claim.

      And thank you for reminding me, Mike, why I changed my views on this issue and became pro-choice.

        • I’m not sure what your hypersensitive position is exactly Mike – that a woman was offered an abortion at 27 weeks after being diagnosed with Down syndrome? That’s your beef is it? You don’t think she should have been offered the option or you don’t believe a woman who finds out that late in the pregnancy should have the option?

          I read your angry posts here and am not really sure what your problem actually is.

          • It’s illegal and disability selective abortion offends disability rights. Equal treatment under the law for all, irrespective of disability. That’s the issue.

            • So a women should never be offered an abortion if there are disability’s? Can a women seek an abortion if she finds out after the test that there are disabilities or are should they be forced to full term?

              • Here we go with the “forced pregnancy” meme. Frank, at 27 weeks the chances are that the woman was intending to carry the baby to full term anyway so why not encourage her to keep going. Suggesting an abortion not only demeans the baby but also demeans the mother. We are not talking about defective store bought goods but the woman’s child and her ability to love. Sure she will be upset and fearful after receiving a prenatal diagnosis but what she now needs is love and support, not an offer to kill her baby! Would you also support euthanasia if a child is diagnosed with cancer or severely injured in an accident so the mother won’t “be forced” to care for him? What’s the difference apart from where the child resides and their stage of development?

        • Mike – I asked you to provide evidence for your statement,

          “The term “severe fetal abnormality” – is widely applied in practice in NZ to include Down syndrome.”

          You have provided a link to an anti-abortion website with anonymous “testimonies” that, for all I know, were written by you and your friends.

          In effect, you attribute a policy of medical practice that you cannot prove with any evidence.

          I assume if the evidence existed, you’d supply it.

          This is why I changed my stance on this issue. You’ve reminded me of all the mis-information I read before I came to the conclusion that I was being fed a crock.

          • No, I provided a link to a Down syndrome advocacy web site. The testimony’s are all real, discredit them if you wish. Our community is well aware of what goes on and how our parents are treated on a daily basis by deeply ingrained attitudes of discrimination within the medical system. We live with it. That is our experience.

            The mums often discuss their experiences on the Saving Downs FB page. If you don’t believe what women say about their own experiences, then take it up with them – it’s a public page. I’m sure they will delighted to be accused of lying.

            • If some women are happy to have a down syndrome baby, all power, support and blessings to them, but are you saying a women who finds out she has down syndrome should be refused an abortion? Is that what you are saying Mike? I’m still not certain what your actual point is.

              • Abortion is not a form of treatment so should not be offered and if doctors are truly concerned about BOTH their patients (mother and child) they would explain that an abortion is not in the best interests of mother and baby.

  10. This is a thoughtful, well-considered, policy that deserves to be a model for political discourse in New Zealand. The fact that I am uncomfortable with making abortion easier does not justify the status quo. As Rachel points out, current abortion laws are a sick joke and they are widely flouted. We must either decriminalize abortion or enforce the law against people who undergo, or perform, abortions where the current criteria for lawfulness does not exist (ie no “serious danger”). I think this issue to too important to be left to a bunch of political actors, no matter how morally strong some of them may be (work out for yourselves who falls into that camp and who does not). I suggest a referendum, with the proposition drafted along the lines of the Greens’ policy.

    • Which policy though Michael? The one that includes disability/severe fetal abnormality in the policy on the web site and press release, or the “new” definition “incompatible with life” that Rachael is using? It is all very confusing and the Green’s need to urgently clarify their position. The policy on the web site is very clear and of serious concern to the Down syndrome community, as it extends disability as a ground for abortion beyond the current 20 week limit.

      • I don’t see why you’re so concerned – Downs Syndrome is a manageable condition these days, not a condition not conducive to life. By this, I believe they’re talking about conditions such as babies developing without certain organs in their body, meaning as soon as they’re born, they will die. Some say “there’ always a chance, no matter what a doctor says”, but there are some conditions that are simply not survivable. THIS is what the policy is aimed at.

        • It is not what the policy actually says though, it uses a definition that captures Down syndrome. Whereas in this blog, an entirely different definition is introduced. So, until the Green’s change the wording of the policy, in captures Down syndrome as grounds for abortion beyond 20 weeks, with no upper limit.

          Now, if the policy is not aimed at that, then it should be changed, and I would welcome that.

          • Mike Sullivan says:
            June 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm

            It is not what the policy actually says though, it uses a definition that captures Down syndrome.

            No. No, it doesn’t.

            You’ve made it up.

            You can’t even post any evidence to sustain your assertions, so it’s unclear to me why I should take you at your word.

              • I suspect whatever they say, you will misinterpret. Having read a couple of things on your anti-abortion website, it seems a fair conclusion.

                By the way, I notice you dumped my post that I left, on your website. That’s a ‘nice’ way to repay the courtesy of TDB allowing you to post here… Oh well, it’s your right to choose, I guess.

      • @ Mike Sullivan and Michael Gibson: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve written this: your objections are religious. You’re putting a religious gloss on biological processes.

        I don’t care if you have religious objections to abortion: you’re perfectly free to do so. But we live in a secular society: religious views must not be allowed to influence issues such as this for the rest of us who aren’t religious.

        The issue of disability in relation to abortion has bugger-all to do with the UN Convention. That convention doesn’t prevent women from aborting a fetus carrying congenital disorders: that’s a choice for the individual, and you need to keep out of it. This country isn’t ruled by any religious caliphate, and long may that remain the case.

        • Who’s mentioned religion? That has nothing to do with anything I posted about, I’m not sure why your introducing it. As a number of Green MP’s have now stated, the Party has an overarching commitment to uphold the UN conventions, so that is a useful clarification. If you object to the Green’s commitments to the UN treaties, you should raise it with them.

          • Invoking the name of the UN and various treaties is pointless as you haven’t actually specified what you’re referring to.

            You’ve already made one claim (see above) that you couldn’t provide evidence to sustain.

            So any further assertions from you and your anti-abortions friends should be treated with caution.

              • That link was meaningless and didn’t present any evidence to back up your unsubstantiated claims.

                I’ll repeat the question; do you have any evidence that “the term “severe fetal abnormality” – is widely applied in practice in NZ to include Down syndrome” ?

                Simple question.

                You must have evidence – aside from anonymous “testimonials” – to back up that wild claim?

          • @ Mike Sullivan: don’t obfuscate. You object to abortion on moral grounds: this is a religious perspective.

            With regard to the UN convention, I didn’t mention it and religion in the same breath: read what I wrote, not what you think I wrote.

            You’re a campaigner for people with disabilities: fair enough. But you can’t tell the rest of us what to do about a fetus with a congenital disorder: it simply isn’t your business. Stay out of it.

            • When a policy breaches international treaties on disability rights, then that should be addressed. Equal treatment under the law, without discrimination on the basis of disability. I expect the Greens will clarify their position on that, then you can argue the point with them. Let’s wait for their clarification.

              • Mike Sullivan says:
                June 11, 2014 at 10:20 am

                When a policy breaches international treaties on disability rights, then that should be addressed.

                So you keep asserting. But without evidence.

                So far all we’re getting is exploiting the Downs issue for your anti-abortion agenda.

  11. Thank you for addressing this issue. My family had tragedy firsthand by seeing what happens when women are denied safe abortion rights and reproductive choices, as my grand-grandmother died trying to abort herself.
    As a young women I had an abortion and while it was incredibly difficult at the time I in no way regret my decision (and think no one deserves to pass judgement when they do not understand the individual circumstances). I would have lost my job, had no way to support myself, and not be able to stay in school, due to a contraception failure.
    I which much rather have a child when I can look after them properly and have the support I need.
    After going through the process I cannot see how people can think it either easy or without thought, nobody in that waiting room wanted to be there, and while some parts of this are free there was considerable travel and time off that I required.
    A foetus does not have the ability to feel pain or consciousness by the cut off, while we look at it socially as a baby it is better (and looks far more like) a collection of cells. Those (rare) cases of late term abortion often happen for babies who are wanted and unfortunately, due to unforeseen medical conditions that would put the mother at risk, or mean the baby be unable to survive.
    What a difficult, heartbreaking, decision.

    • Ella Duncan, we are all “a collection of cells”. And at 20 weeks a foetus looks very much like a human baby and do so at the earlier time that the majority of abortions are performed. It’s not too difficult these days to find photos on the internet, including what they look like after abortion instruments and suction machines have dismembered them.

      • @ Stella McLeod: “It’s not too difficult these days to find photos on the internet, including what they look like after abortion instruments and suction machines have dismembered them.”

        This is really offensive, you know, and it doesn’t in any way support your argument. Such as it is…

        • Why is talking about what happens during early abortions offensive if it is just another health issue. Far more offensive is thinking that it is okay to take another’s life in such a gruesome way. If you find the reality of abortion offensive, why are you defending it?

          • @ Stella McLeod: misrepresentation again. Rachael has already pointed out that this doesn’t happen. Go read up on how abortions are actually carried out here in New Zealand.

            It’s offensive because of the way it’s intended to misrepresent the reality, to scare women and make them feel guilty.

            I’m offended for those reasons, not for any others. I’m not squeamish: I’m far too long in the tooth and I’ve seen far too much blood and gore for that.

            • “Surgical abortion by dilatation of the cervix and suction curettage is the most common method used in New Zealand for first trimester and some second trimester abortions.” http://abortion.gen.nz/procedures/index.html

              You will be relieved to know that this website doesn’t show photos and prefers to use terms like this, “For larger pregnancies tissue forceps may be used as well to lift out the pregnancy tissue. This will take a little longer.” Of course the pregnancy tissue are actually parts of the baby’s body. As I said before, if you don’t like descriptions of abortion then why support the procedure? Oh, according to the website the second trimester is from 13 – 27 weeks.

  12. You say “my body, my choice”. What do you think that little life inside you is saying…?

    • I’m no expert but my guess is that the ‘little life inside you’ does not yet have the brain development necessary to be able to have a conversation.

    • @ Donna Stevens: you’re putting a religious gloss on a biological process. I wonder if you’re aware of the research showing how many zygotes are expelled from the body without successfully implanting? Were this not the case, of course, there’d be standing room only.

      But really, if you’re concerned about aborted fetuses, it’s inconsistent not to extend that concern to the billions of spontaneous abortions which occur daily worldwide. Even though you can’t do anything of moment about them, and even though women (including you, I’m guessing) are unaware of them.

      • Metrical, So should we be equally unconcerned when children and adults are deliberately killed (murdered) just because some die from illness or accidents? Do you also consider famine, natural disasters and warfare an appropriate way to prevent over-crowding?

        In fact induced abortion actually desensitises society to the fact that mothers grieve after losing a baby via natural miscarriage.

        • In fact induced abortion actually desensitises society to the fact that mothers grieve after losing a baby via natural miscarriage.

          Tui ad. That’s ridiculous. It’s not abortion which causes people to be awkward around women who have just miscarried, it’s a systemic culture issue where people ‘just don’t know what to say’ etc etc.

        • @Stella McLeod: “Metrical,…” Careful: you’re beginning to sound like a wee troll there. It’d be wise to avoid that if you expect to be taken seriously here.

          “So should we be equally unconcerned when children and adults are deliberately killed (murdered) just because some die from illness or accidents? Do you also consider famine, natural disasters and warfare an appropriate way to prevent over-crowding?”

          This is a classic piece of overstatement, which also misrepresents what I wrote: exactly the tactic of which Frank Macskasy and others have complained. I suggest that you reread my comment.

      • Key word: “spontaneous”. As in, “not deliberately caused”.

        Seriously, you can’t see the difference between those two things? Between a woman’s body, for a myriad of possible reasons, expelling a fetus, and a doctor deliberately terminating the life of that fetus?

        • If you’re going to argue that its all about the poor wee baby, and a life being ended through abortion, then I don’t think that poor wee baby cares whether its life is ended via abortion or via miscarriage, do you?

          Why are the pro-life folks not pushing for more research on miscarriage, and not trying to reduce miscarriages?

          Because it’s not all about the poor wee baby, that’s why. Its about controlling women.

          • Damage to the cervix during a abortion can cause future miscarriages. Obviously there are many other causes, some of which are known.

        • @ Sam: “Key word: “spontaneous”. As in, “not deliberately caused”.

          Seriously, you can’t see the difference between those two things?”

          There isn’t an in-principle difference, because the end result is the same. Whatever the aborting mechanism, the zygote is just as aborted.

    • Donna Stevens says:
      June 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      You say “my body, my choice”. What do you think that little life inside you is saying…?

      Not a helluva lot, I’m guessing.

  13. Rachael, congratulations to the Greens for having the courage to tackle this issue; it’s long years overdue, but very welcome for all that. All power to you in getting this over the line in Parliament!

    I was a young adult when the campaign to legalise abortion was waged in the 1970s. The Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act was a compromise, about which those of us who wanted legalisation were unhappy. We’ve waited a hell of a long time for change; I do hope that this time we get it.

    My preference is that the aforementioned Act is repealed, and that reference to abortion is removed from the Crimes Act; I want the law to be silent with regard to abortion. I believe that there should be as few rules and regulations surrounding access to it as there are to other gynaecological procedures.

    I completely agree with Nicola Whyte: doctors should not be allowed to exercise conscientious objection to abortion, and the NZMC should never have agreed to that. I also hope that this issue will be dealt with by the Greens.

    Whether or not people opposed to abortion realise it, the objections they raise are essentially religious in nature. They’re free to have such objections, but this is a secular society: it ought not to be the case that religious considerations can influence access to abortion for women who aren’t religious.

  14. Kia ora Rachel, thank you for this article clarifying our party’s position, and policy for Women. I have linked this article to many friends on Facebook who have been reading about our policy on the Pro Life website. I have had only positive responses, once pointing out the factual elements to our policy, as opposed to those expressed on Pro Life. Thank you for being a strong wahine and commenting on this sensitive issue.

  15. Saving Downs has discussed their concerns around the disability rights issues of the policy directly with Green Party MP’s as elected representatives of Parliament. We have been advised that a formal statement will be issued to address our concerns.

      • What agenda? Saving Downs advocates against prenatal discrimination against our community. That’s it.

        I’m confident that the Green Party’s official statement will address our concerns.

        • If you managed to misconstrue this policy launch as an attack on down syndrome births, it would help explain your hysteria at Matt McCarten’s throw away comment during a Q&A session which you managed to also twist into some attack on down syndrome children. I think parents of down syndrome babies are amazing but your advocacy for them seems less so.

          • I haven’t misconstrued anything. Currently we have three contradictory positions from the Greens on disability as grounds for abortion under their policy. A simple clarification might help. It’s a pity that a policy on such an important issue needs rewording pretty much straight away because it says something that we are now told means something different. That’s pretty sloppy.

            And yes, McCarten saying it’s a “no brainer to abort for Down syndrome” is offensive and is anti-choice as it expresses a view that only one choice is the correct choice. A bit like Michaels Laws. Try saying it’s a no brainer to abort for race or sexual orientation and see how you get on.

  16. Thank you for taking the time to clarify a number of things, Rachael.

    I’ll put a disclaimer before I add anything else – I am a Christian (a Minister in the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand) and therefore have a view of human life informed by that. I believe in the dignity of human life from conception and therefore the inherent rights of the unborn child and also women. Where this obviously becomes contentious is when those two sets of rights clash. Usually people will lean towards upholding one of them over the other and though many may object to the ‘religious’ view, what it is essentially seeking to do is act as a voice for the rights of the one viewed as most vulnerable when those sets of rights clash. On the other hand, those promoting a less restricted approach to abortion are upholding the right of the one they perceive to be most vulnerable, the mother. What we need to do is find ways for the disagreements between these tensions to play out well.

    Merrial, you have batted away every objection to a less restricted approach to abortion as a ‘religious’ gloss, so you may be surprised to find a number of secular humanists (who would disagree with me on the view that informs my approach) who would consider themselves pro-life http://www.prolifehumanists.org/secular-case-against-abortion/

    What we can all agree on, whatever our perspective on the law that currently exists or that which is being proposed, is that any abortion statistic is too high and we’d all like to see it come down. It is not an ideal situation for a woman to be in a place where she feels that it’s a choice she needs to make. That desire to bring it down is where we can find a common ground and actually work together.

    With that in mind, much of it due to the nature of the current legislation and the way it is flouted, we have little hard data on the real reasons people are choosing termination at any point in a pregnancy from conception to birth. Introducing into legislation a means to collect that data would then present us with a picture we can work together on, coming up with ways to tackle the issue at its roots rather than constantly bickering over the legislation. I would ask the Greens (in their process with this policy) to consider if and how that data can be collected fairly, without pressure or any form of discrimination so that we can work on this together before a woman gets to the point where a choice around this even needs to be made.

    • Thanks so much for your reasoned and respectful reply. It’s always great when Christian people stand up for what they believe in in a rational way. I agree. I and the Greens want abortion rates to keep dropping. It would be fantastic to actually gather valid data on terminations, while of course respecting the woman’s choice and privacy. Unfortunately while it’s illegal, the only answer that can be given is that it will affect their physical and mental health.

      • Thanks, Rachael. Hopefully the fact that the Greens have ventured to allow this sensitive issue to be debated again in the public sphere enables us all to truly think about how we can bring that figure down. I’d like to see a lot more people, from all sides of the debate think about what can change in order for that data to be gathered (no matter what the law looks like). Without that data we can do little to truly address the roots of the problem.

      • Rachael, If you want to reduce something you don’t make it easier to get. I suggest if we were serious about reducing abortion we would stop unlimited state funding of abortion. There appears to be no upper limit to how many abortions can be funded. My favourite way to reduce abortions would be to put all patients requesting them on a 9 month waiting list. If this is really just another health issue then let’s treat abortions like other elective surgery. If doctors truly think an abortion is necessary, then why not do them for free or at least at cost?

        It doesn’t have to be about whether the mother or baby is more vulnerable if we attempt to save both lives.

        • Your view is not backed up by statistics. And all your suggestion will do is bury more babies in back yards and put the woman’s life and wellbeing at risk too. What you’re suggesting is incredibly dangerous.

        • Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is high, at 29 and 32 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and Latin America, respectively—regions where abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. In Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds, the abortion rate is 12 per 1,000. ( Sedgh G et al.)

          • In Russia, where abortion has been freely available on and off since 1920, the abortion rate is enormous at 43 per 1,000, so it doesn’t necessarily follow that liberal abortion laws equals fewer abortions. I have read that lower abortion rates are in direct proportion to how much support pregnant women receive – and since most western European countries have a relatively low rate and a good social network, there may be some truth in that …. maybe we can be the first not so wealthy country in the world to reduce our abortion rate …..

            • @ Sandy: “In Russia, where abortion has been freely available on and off since 1920, the abortion rate is enormous at 43 per 1,000…”

              Indeed. As I understand the situation there, other forms of contraception are scarcely used. This suggests that abortion has become part of the prevailing culture, while other contraceptive methods have not. The reasons will likely lie in the social history of the old Soviet Union.

              It’s not clear to me why I – or anyone – should worry about abortion rates, if it’s eventually legalised. What’s the issue, exactly?

              • We’ll I guess it depends if you think abortion is undesirable or not. Some “pro-choice” people actually do think there should be fewer abortions. I’m not too sure what the reasoning is but maybe they don’t regard abortion as just another form of contraceptive.

              • Merrial – my understanding is that “In Russia, where abortion has been freely available on and off since 1920, the abortion rate is enormous at 43 per 1,000…” relates more to the Soviet era, where locally produced condoms were of poor quality and failed often.

                Combined with high rates of alcohol abuse, for which Russians are legendary, and we have a “cocktail” for bad outcomes.

                It would be interesting to know if there are more recent statistics.

                • @ Frank: “…locally produced condoms were of poor quality and failed often.”

                  That figures; and it’s also likely that the oral contraceptive wasn’t widely available for many years – no doubt there’d have been access issues. A lot of things freely available in the West at that time were unobtainable in the Soviet Union. And by the time they were available, a culture of resorting to abortion would’ve taken root. Cultures can be very resistant to change.

              • Merrial, I was replying to Rachael’s assertion that highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates by pointing out that liberal abortion laws also do not necessarily equal lower abortion rates, and that we should look elsewhere if we are interested at all in reducing our abortion rate. You chose to ignore that I was suggesting we put policies in place so that women who are facing financial hardship, for instance, will have a wider range of options and may choose not to abort. But then you are completely implacable in your determination to see abortion legalised, having waited so long, since the 1970s, for this issue to again be raised. It astounds me that you demand choice for one section of society, whilst at the same time denying it to another – “I completely agree with Nicola Whyte: doctors should not be allowed to exercise conscientious objection to abortion, and the NZMC should never have agreed to that. I also hope that this issue will be dealt with by the Greens”. Fact: every abortion takes a human life – if a doctor objects to the taking of a human life for whatever reason, he or she should have the right to exercise conscientious objection. And lastly, you attempt to belittle every argument with your ‘religious gloss’ title -yes, some of us do believe in God and we do believe that every human being is unique and loved by God regardless at what stage of development that person is at – in the womb, child, teenager, middle age, elderly – but that belief does not preclude me or anyone else from this debate.

                • @ Sandy: ” It astounds me that you demand choice for one section of society, whilst at the same time denying it to another – “I completely agree with Nicola Whyte: doctors should not be allowed to exercise conscientious objection to abortion, and the NZMC should never have agreed to that. I also hope that this issue will be dealt with by the Greens”.”

                  It may sound hard to you, but doctors are in a privileged position vis a vis patient care. The job they sign up for is to provide health services; they should do this without fear or favour.

                  It may sound reasonable that a doctor can exercise conscientious objection to abortion, because a woman can always go elsewhere. That’s big-city – or at least large provincial town – thinking. In very small towns and rural areas, there may well not be another doctor within reasonable travelling distance. In such circumstances, women aren’t getting the healthcare to which they’re entitled.

                  ” And lastly, you attempt to belittle every argument with your ‘religious gloss’ title”

                  Nope: I don’t “belittle” at all. But you wouldn’t be the first theist to take offence at having the religious basis of objections to abortion pointed out to them. I do think that theists in general need to develop a thicker skin if they wish to jump into the hurly-burly of this debate.

                  And of course you’re entitled to join the debate. Be honest though: Christians want their view to prevail with regard to abortion law. Non-religious people like me, on the other hand, want secularism to prevail.

                  We don’t object to Christians refusing to have abortions, if that’s what you want to do.

                  But we do object to Christians attempting to prevent other women from having easy access to safe, legal abortions.

                  Here’s the thing: reproduction is a biological process, despite Christians attempting to cast it in a metaphysical and theological light. We were having babies long before Christianity was thought of.

                  Things can go wrong in reproduction: mutations and copying errors can render the fetus non-viable – or cause it to be born with serious disability, or degenerative disease which will be ultimately fatal. Women can become seriously ill while they’re pregnant. Contraception can fail, despite people’s best efforts. For a multiplicity of reasons, women may wish to have an abortion. It’s not for me to stand in their way; nor is it for you.

                  • thank you Merrial for your respectful and thought-provoking reply. However, I find that in every pro-choice argument, there is a glaring omission of any discussion around the life which has been created at the moment of conception. I assume that pro-choice advocates would find the murder of a, say, 3 year old child morally abhorrent, and the laws of our land reflect that. So how is it possible to be morally neutral about abortion, which prematurely ends the life of someone who would have grown up to be that 3 year old child? I quote here Matt Walsh’s thoughts: “we here on the other side have taken the position that human life — at every stage of development, no matter how vulnerable or small or hidden from view — possesses an intrinsic value. That is to say, human life bears a certain significance that, by definition, cannot be hinged on circumstance.
                    If human life has an intrinsic value, then it must possess that value in all situations and through all stages, otherwise the value is not intrinsic — it is earned, acquired, and conditional.
                    We pro-lifers do not believe that the value of human life rests on its condition or its external setting. We believe this BECAUSE we believe it to be intrinsically valuable. This is why we oppose abortion. It destroys innocent human life.”
                    Merrial, I do know, having had a miscarriage, that things can go wrong in reproduction, however, I am sure that you are aware that there would only be a small percentage of pregnancies where this is the case, and a lot of abortions are carried out because of ‘time of life’ reasons – pregnancy too early in a new relationship, financial, career, study, I’m sure there are many reasons. If we legalise abortion carte blanche, and, as the Greens are proposing, remove any possible advocacy on behalf of the child, isn’t that a travesty of justice? Matt Walsh again:
                    “In the days of slavery, a horse was granted a higher legal status than an African slave. Abortion has returned us to a similar dynamic, only we haven’t dehumanized a race or ethnicity – we’ve dehumanized an entire stage of life”.

        • “If you want to reduce something you don’t make it easier to get.”

          If you’d bother to pay attention, the Greens also support access to contraception and sex education, both proven to reduce abortion.
          The number of abortion doesn’t go up because it’s made easier, because women don’t have abortions for fun – they have them because they NEED them. You could “put all patients on a 9 month waiting list”, as you say, but those women would be ordering abortion pills off the internet, reading up on home remedies (knitting needle, hot bath + gin, get someone to kick you in the stomach, etc) and taking action to control their future.
          So sick of people who assume that banning abortion makes it magically disappear.

          • Do contraceptives and sex education really reduce abortion or do they foster the mindset that if a pregnancy isn’t planned then it has to go away? Surveys consistently show that the majority of girls and women seeking abortion (about 60%) were using some form of contraceptive. Even ALRANZ on its website admits that abortion is “needed” as a backup to failed contraception. The trouble is abortion doesn’t turn the clock back. That’s just wishful thinking.

            • No, it’s wishful thinking to think that stopping women having legal abortions will stop abortion. And yes, all the research shows that when young people are educated on sex, and have easy access to contraceptives they will get pregnant less often. It’s not rocket science.

              You’re confusing “unwanted pregnancy” with “unexpected pregnancy”. Someone may have been on the pill and not wanted to be pregnant, but once she finds out she is, she might welcome the surprise. Or she might not. The only thing that the Greens’ policy will change is that she’ll be able to make the choice sooner, have fewer obstacles in her way IF she chooses abortion, and hopefully more support and less stigma.

              I can’t say it better than Emma Hart on Public Address blog:
              “Some people seem to forget that once you have an unwanted pregnancy, “travel back in time and not get pregnant” is not actually a choice. If you take away a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion, all you’re doing is leaving her with the options that were worse than abortion to start with.”

              • Options like giving birth and raising one’s own child or placing the baby for adoption are worse than abortion? Why?

                What research also shows is that if people think they have protection they are more likely to take part in risky behaviour.

                • Options like “being pregnant and giving birth against your will” or “trying home remedies that your grandma’s generation used, knowing that some of them died along the way”.
                  Again, you need to get it into your head that banning abortion does not stop abortion – a woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant will use desperate measure to not be pregnant.

                  • I guess you haven’t paid any attention to news reports from the USA where women have died after so called “safe” legal abortion. My mother and grandmother’s generations were probably way more likely to give birth and give their baby up for adoption. In fact because of this I’ve discovered we have relatives we knew nothing a bout. The system wasn’t perfect but the baby lived, grew up and had children and grandchildren.

                    • Show me any deaths after abortion, and I guarantee it’ll be because the woman couldn’t access a legal abortion in her state so did it illegally. Or she couldn’t afford to have it done earlier so it ended up as a late-term abortion, which have higher risks. Nearly 90% of US counties don’t have an abortion clinic anymore, so women have to save up and re-arrange their jobs, children, families, etc, so they can travel out of state to get it done.

                      A first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures. In fact, it is safer than carrying on with the pregnancy.

            • Stella McLeod says:
              June 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm

              Do contraceptives and sex education really reduce abortion or do they foster the mindset that if a pregnancy isn’t planned then it has to go away?

              Ignorance is bliss?

              That might be a belief shared by certain extremist religious groups who don’t want any form of education for girls.

              So you’re advocating not teaching our children about sex and the consequences of unprotected sex?

              Well, I can see that turning out ‘well’.

              What next, sending pregnant women away “up north” like they used to do in the 1950s?

        • @ Stella McLeod: ” I suggest if we were serious about reducing abortion we would stop unlimited state funding of abortion.”

          Nope; social history isn’t on your side in this matter. When I was doing research for an essay (on eugenics, as it happens) at university, I read a lot of literature on this topic. While I can’t summon up the stats now – it was a long time ago – I remember being startled at the very high rates of abortion in the US, in the days before it was legalised. The same is true of other countries, as Rachael points out.

          “My favourite way to reduce abortions would be to put all patients requesting them on a 9 month waiting list.”

          Welcome to the illegal abortion trade! That’s what would happen, were this scenario to play out. Other people have said it here, but I’ll say it again: while there’ll always be some women for whom abortion is the default option, for the rest, it’s a necessity, driven by contraceptive failure, or a diagnosis of fetal abnormality, or her own ill health. Nobody can eliminate abortion: restricting access to it simply drives it underground and makes it more dangerous for women.

          Reproduction is a a biological process; things will go wrong, often unpredictably and sometimes very fast. Much as you might wish it were different, nobody can bring about a world in which abortion is absent, and every child conceived will be born. It can’t happen.

            • @ Stella McLeod: “I wouldn’t put too much faith in statistics before abortion was legalised. Bernard Nathanson says they made up statistics about how many abortions there were and how many women died from abortions.”

              I wouldn’t assume that Nathanson was an authority on abortion stats. He may well have made stuff up; the material I was reading at university came from some of the Ivy League universities, not usually a hotbed of fraud and made-up stuff… I think I’ll trust that, rather than that which is in the link you posted.

              As an aside: I looked at his first name and thought, that man’s either a Jew or a Catholic. Turns out he was both!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Frank. The ideal would be no woman in New Zealand being put in the position where the view from her perspective is that abortion is the only option. I wonder, though, whether we could take a bit of a guess at the main reasons for abortion and put something in place now? Financial instability undoubtedly would be one – and perhaps the challenge for our political parties with an election this year, would be policy around this, as a start, to begin to tackle the root cause. Let’s hope in any case now that the issue is being debated, that we as a people can formulate something positive and go forward with it.

        • Which implies that for some women it can be a negative choice. I said something similar earlier and got slated for it.

          • Stella McLeod says:
            June 12, 2014 at 12:51 am

            Which implies that for some women it can be a negative choice. I said something similar earlier and got slated for it.

            That may be Stella. But in the final analysis it is their choice; their decision. You can’t choose for other adults. Just as you wouldn’t like the State to decree how your reproductive abilities will be decided.

            Heck, even you Christians keep telling us that “He” doesn’t intervene in all the horrible things that humans do to each other – because “He” gives us free choice.

            I assume that choice applies to how a woman will determine her reproductive faculties?

      • Interesting points, Sandy.

        Being a bloke, it’s hard for me to see things from a woman’s p.o.v. and I’m wary to try.

        So there are probably many, many reasons why a woman might view abortion as an option.

        In the final analysis, all we can do is offer her advice ; (truthful) information; options; support; and then it’s up to her.

        I certainly wouldn’t want to pass a law controlling a woman’s body just as I wouldn’t want laws passed controlling mine. I know I wouldn’t want my body controlled by 120 people.

      • Thanks, Sandy. I think those would be fair assumptions around the reasons. That’s why the social safety nets are so important. When financial stability crumbles a whole lot of social issues arise.

    • @ Frank Ritchie: “Merrial, you have batted away every objection to a less restricted approach to abortion as a ‘religious’ gloss, so you may be surprised to find a number of secular humanists (who would disagree with me on the view that informs my approach) who would consider themselves pro-life”

      I’ve read the article to which you posted a link. I wonder if anyone else commenting here has read it.

      I don’t wish to beat about the bush: this article reads like a religious polemic, albeit shorn of references to theism. The author falls into the same “reductio ad absurdum” trap which catches pro-lifers: in her desire to construct an argument against abortion, she finds herself in the position of having to oppose abortion for rape victims. In fact, it was that particular section which I thought the most tendentious – and, to be blunt, egregiously offensive.

      I noted her use of the quote from Peter Singer. I read him extensively when I studied Ethics at university; I was surprised to find him quoted in a piece such as this. I recognise that bit: if I recall correctly, he was putting forward an argument for his concept of the “cone of moral considerability”: who fits into it, and who doesn’t. I’d have thought his views a little radical for this author’s taste: he’d be much more likely to agree with me, I believe.

      I grew up as a Catholic. This is why I can recognise a religious objection to abortion at a hundred paces, so to speak; this is exactly the church’s view, although of course it opposes all forms of contraception, abortion included. In his encyclical “Humanae Vitae”, promulgated in 1968, Pope Paul VI stated the church’s position on contraception, including abortion. The church’s view hasn’t changed one iota in all the years since.

      I abandoned the church as a young adult because I disagreed with its stance on contraception. Back then, I opposed abortion, except for rape victims, but then I came to understand the inconsistency of that position. For the life of me, I couldn’t adopt the position that rape victims couldn’t have an abortion: it was much too callous and inhumane a stance. Just plain creepy, some might say…. So I now take the view that it isn’t my business if women wish to have an abortion, and I want them to have easy access to safe, legal services, with as few legal constraints around those services as possible.

      Of course your perspective is religious: I’d be surprised if it were not. I take no issue with your views, and I’d expect you to act in your own life according to those views, just as I expect it with other theists. But this is a secular polity; those of us who aren’t religious are entitled to have a legal system which reflects that secularity. Therefore the secular view must prevail with regard to abortion law.

      • Merrial, please read this, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html, written by someone who had first hand experience of what it was like to live under regimes that supported both secularism and abortion.
        “It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized. Only respect for life can be the foundation and guarantee of the most precious and essential goods of society, such as democracy and peace.” St. John Paul 11

        • @ Stella McLeod: “..written by someone who had first hand experience of what it was like to live under regimes that supported both secularism and abortion.”

          I grew up as a Catholic, so I’m familiar with the views John Paul had on this matter, because they were the same as every pope before him, and every pope to come will espouse those same views.

          However, I left the church long years ago, precisely over the contraception issue. In my view, a bunch of blokes in frocks have no business claiming that they know better than I, and other women, what we should do with our bodies. I can see no reason why a Polish bloke in a frock would have any more credibility than all the Italian ones before him. Or that Argentinian one currently occupying the papal throne.

          These men of the church are (at least theoretically) celibate: therefore they have no experience of what it’s like to live with the difficulties of family planning, regardless of whether abortion is legal or illegal in the societies in which they’ve lived.

          If you’re attempting to persuade me to your – or the Catholic – way of thinking about abortion, give it up. I was once where you are now; I saw the light many years ago, before the CSA 1977 was enacted. You’re casting your words on stony ground.

          I have no desire at all to persuade you to my way of thinking; nobody, least of all me, expects you and other pro-lifers to change your views, such that you’d consider having an abortion yourself.

          But I do want pro-lifers to get out of the way and allow the law changes needed to make abortion legal here. I want other women to have easy access to safe, legal abortion services, with as few constraining rules and regulations around those services as possible.

          • That particular “Polish bloke” lived in Poland when it was occupied by the Nazis and abortion was legalised as a means to reduce the Polish population.
            I appreciate I’m not going to change your views, but I’m hoping other people who venture here will see that there are valid reasons for being against abortion.

            • You forget that the Nazis also banned abortion for Aryan women. They also heavily curtailed contraception use. They wanted Aryan women pregnant as much as possible.

              Don’t go citing Hitler as a reason to be against abortion, and fail to mention that Hitler was also against abortion for his pure race. He believed in state control of reproduction, which is exactly what opponents of abortion want.

              • So Hitler wasn’t consistent, but then neither is a law that only wants to decriminalise abortion up to 20 weeks and then only allow it in certain circumstances after that.

                • @ Stella McLeod: “That particular “Polish bloke” lived in Poland when it was occupied by the Nazis and abortion was legalised as a means to reduce the Polish population.”

                  Aha! I see that Godwin’s Law has finally been invoked. It’s taken long enough, I must say.

                  I suspect that’s a furphy, in any case.

                  You do know, don’t you, that almost all of the countries of Europe have legalised abortion? Moreover, countries which are considered to be Catholic? Also USA, Canada, Mexico, Cuba; and many other countries worldwide. If these polities can do it, so can we.

      • Hi Merrial
        You wrote “Therefore the secular view must prevail with regard to abortion law.”
        Our secular law is based upon an agreed set of moral principals.
        Murder, theft, assault etc. are criminal offences not because the Bible, the church or some religious group says so, but because as a civilised society we agree that these things are morally wrong.

        This is why pro-lifers are against abortion. The unborn child is a human and ought to have the same right to life that everyone else in our civilised society enjoys.

  17. I’m 1000% pro-choice. It’s a women’s body, this is a medical procedure between the women and their practitioner. It’s no body else’s business.

    End of story.

  18. Hi Rachael. Thanks for your clarification on these issues. “We are not creating abortion on demand up to 20 weeks.” Are you able to please confirm what restrictions are in place on abortions up to 20 weeks compared to abortions up to 9 weeks? I cannot find this info after a detailed look at your policy.

  19. @ Mike Sullivan: here is the relevant section of that report you linked to:

    “17. The Committee takes note of Act 2/2010 of 3 March 2010 on sexual and reproductive health, which decriminalizes voluntary termination of pregnancy, allows pregnancy to be terminated up to 14 weeks and includes two specific cases in which the time limits for abortion are extended if the foetus has a disability: until 22 weeks of gestation, provided there is “a risk of serious anomalies in the foetus”, and beyond week 22 when, inter alia, “an extremely serious and incurable illness is detected in the foetus”. The Committee also notes the explanations provided by the State party for maintaining this distinction.
    18. The Committee recommends that the State party abolish the distinction made in Act 2/2010 in the period allowed under law within which a pregnancy can be terminated based solely on disability.”

    I note that this report is for Spain.

    In s18 above, the Committee recommends that the disability distinction be abolished for 20+ week pregnancies. The consequence of this would be to allow late terminations for any reason, including disability, of course. Which goes somewhat beyond what’s being proposed by the Greens.

    So I take it that you’re ok with this? If so, it’s a bit surprising: it means that you accept 20+ week abortions, provided that they aren’t just for disability. This seems to be a bizarre unintended consequence of your advocacy for those with disabilities. In your determination to amend the Green policy so as to conform with the UN convention, you end up with just the situation you claim to oppose. I suspect it’ll come as a surprise to many people commenting here.

    • Good point. It doesn’t come as a surprise to me, but I also defend the right to be born, not aborted, of babies with terminal conditions. I hope the people here watched the latest episode of One Born Ever Minute, TV One, Wednesday. It showed what it is really like to get a diagnosis of a potentially terminal condition, to carry on with the pregnancy, give birth and love the baby till he dies. Months later the baby’s parents did not regret their decision and spoke of how proud they were of their baby and how he has changed them for the better. That is why I defend the right of all babies to be born as I too have had a similar experience.

      • Oh, well if they didn’t regret their decision, then we must take that choice away from everyone else, because people have a hive mind and one size fits all, or something!

        They had a choice, right? They are happy with their choice – that’s great. NOT a reason to take that choice away from every other couple.

        Can you really not see that?

        • It is a reason however why parents shouldn’t assume that bearing a child who will or may die is too horrific to go through. It’s not a pleasant experience to have one’s child diagnosed with a terminal illness sometime after birth but they are not persuaded that it would be better to kill the child rather than continuing to love and care.

          • So as long as prospective parents are told “This is what your baby will be born with, this is what will happen, some parents find it very rewarding to carry pregnancy to term and comfort baby while he/she dies, whereas others find the idea of it too traumatic and choose abortion, have a think and let us know your decision” – you’re fine with that?
            Because that’s all any pro-choice person wants. Unbiased information so people can make the right choice for themselves.

            • I would counsel parents to give birth. Parents will discover that the “idea” and the reality are not the same thing.

              • So do you believe that everyone should give birth and then they’ll magically develop maternal feelings, and all the problems (financial, career, lack of family support, etc) that made them want an abortion will magically disappear?

        • @ Stella McLeod: SM is right. What you’re showing here is people exercising individual choice. I’m delighted for them, but not everyone will feel the same.

          And those who feel differently must be allowed to exercise the choices they wish to make.

          You cannot choose for them; you ought not to be suggesting that the choice you favour is the one that other people in that situation should make. Allow grown-ups to be grown-up; let them exercise their autonomy.

          • Parents are far more likely to face pressure to abort because that’s the “cost effective” option.

            • Then get out there campaigning for paid parental leave and baby bonus and Plunket visits and all of that that new parents often need.
              If you acknowledge that financial issues are a compelling reason to abort, then campaign to change that – don’t judge people for making that decision.

    • Merrial, s18 requires the disability distinction be removed, reverting to the 14 week limit afforded to other pregnancies in Spain. That is the same determination made in the UK Parliamentary Enquiry into abortion for disability last year, although in the UK the relative gestation limits are different (to birth for any disability, otherwise 24 weeks). See http://www.savingdowns.com/end-discrimination-against-unborn-disabled-children-says-uk-inquiry/

      So, from a disability rights perspective, irrespective of gestational limits, those limits should be the same and not provide a distinction on the basis of disability. That is the CRPD position, equal provision of gestational limits under abortion laws. That limit varies from country to county.

      Unfortunately the Greens policy includes a distinction based on disability via the definition “severe fetal abnormality”, whereas in this blog a different term “incompatible with life” is used. These are very different things and the Green’s need to come clean on what they mean.

      I hope that is clearer. Thank you for taking the time to read the UN report.

      • @Mike Sullivan: “s18 requires the disability distinction be removed, reverting to the 14 week limit…”.

        That may be what the committee thinks it wrote – or it may be what you think it wrote. But, on account of word order and the like, that’s not what this statement means. Take a closer look at it. I think that my interpretation is closer to the mark.

      • Unfortunately the Greens policy includes a distinction based on disability via the definition “severe fetal abnormality”, whereas in this blog a different term “incompatible with life” is used.

        So?! This blog is not an organ of the Green Party and is an independent entity.

        The Green policy is quite specific;

        To support the freedom to have an abortion the Green Party will:

        Decriminalise abortion by removing it from the Crimes Act.

        Allow terminations after 20 weeks gestation only when the woman would otherwise face serious permanent injury to her health, .

        Note: or in the case of severe fetal abnormalities (as is current practice).

        Nothing about “incompatible with life”. (Though, on the surface, in practical terms they probably mean the same thing.)

        So your conflation of suggested abortion of Downs Syndrome fetuses is a total red herring because Down Syndrome is not a “severe fetal abnormality” that is ““incompatible with life”.

        No one – except you – has suggested such a thing.

        Hence why I suggested above, on more than one occassion, that you are exploiting Downs Syndrome for your own anti-abortion agenda.

  20. @ Sandy:

    ” However, I find that in every pro-choice argument, there is a glaring omission of any discussion around the life which has been created at the moment of conception. I assume that pro-choice advocates would find the murder of a, say, 3 year old child morally abhorrent, and the laws of our land reflect that.”

    There are two things to be said about this statement. The first is that abortion and infanticide – or the murder of a pre-schooler – aren’t parallel issues. The law recognises this: it states that personhood is acquired in the process of being born; thus a fetus isn’t a person.

    The second point is that every conception in every organism creates a life: that’s what reproduction is all about. So what is special about the creation of human life? This is where the religious perspective comes in; Christianity asserts that human life is special, in a way that all other life is not.

    “So how is it possible to be morally neutral about abortion, which prematurely ends the life of someone who would have grown up to be that 3 year old child?”

    Abortion terminates a fetus, not “someone”. The fetus must gestate and be born before the term “someone” can apply. Miscarriage also terminates a fetus; research suggests many more than by abortion, at least in this country.

    “I quote here Matt Walsh’s thoughts: “we here on the other side have taken the position that human life — at every stage of development, no matter how vulnerable or small or hidden from view — possesses an intrinsic value. That is to say, human life bears a certain significance that, by definition, cannot be hinged on circumstance.
    If human life has an intrinsic value, then it must possess that value in all situations and through all stages, otherwise the value is not intrinsic — it is earned, acquired, and conditional.
    We pro-lifers do not believe that the value of human life rests on its condition or its external setting. We believe this BECAUSE we believe it to be intrinsically valuable. This is why we oppose abortion. It destroys innocent human life.”

    This – again – is a religious point of view. There is no in-principle reason why intrinsic value should be attributed to the human fetus over all others.

    “Merrial, I do know, having had a miscarriage, that things can go wrong in reproduction, however, I am sure that you are aware that there would only be a small percentage of pregnancies where this is the case…”

    Not according to the research which has been done, reference to which can be found online. The percentage of zygotes which fail to implant is considerable, and in all likelihood most women of childbearing age will have this happen to them at some time, even though they’re unlikely to be aware of it. Then the percentage of pregnancies which miscarry is not inconsiderable. In this regard, we’re just the same as all other life forms.

    “… a lot of abortions are carried out because of ‘time of life’ reasons – pregnancy too early in a new relationship, financial, career, study, I’m sure there are many reasons. If we legalise abortion carte blanche, and, as the Greens are proposing, remove any possible advocacy on behalf of the child, isn’t that a travesty of justice?”

    No, it’s not a travesty of justice, because the fetus doesn’t have personhood. I notice that your man Walsh isn’t making a similar claim about other forms of contraception.

    Women’s reasons for having an abortion are their business, not mine, or yours. Or Walsh’s.

    ” Matt Walsh again:
    “In the days of slavery, a horse was granted a higher legal status than an African slave. Abortion has returned us to a similar dynamic, only we haven’t dehumanized a race or ethnicity – we’ve dehumanized an entire stage of life”.”

    I don’t know who this fellow Walsh is, but he’s making a straw man argument here. Surely he – and more importantly you – don’t believe this stuff?

    I don’t have an issue with men having an opinion about abortion, or contraception generally. However, they are in the happy position of not having to gestate a fetus, whether or not that fetus is wanted. So they do need to be judicious in what they say on this issue.

    • The analogy of slavery is an interesting one. Because female slaves had no control over their reproduction. They were bred, forced to abort, forced to bear children, all as their master commanded.

      Interesting that people that would ban abortion (ie force women to bear children) would use that analogy.

      And we haven’t “dehumanized an entire stage of life”, Sandy. The pro-life movement only started around 50 years ago. The embryo has always existed, but life wasn’t seen to be precious until around four months of pregnancy, or whenever the mother felt movement.
      So it’s the churches that have changed position, the rest of society has always seen it as necessary.

      As women gain more independence and equality, the churches fight back to control them again, perhaps?

      • @ SM: “As women gain more independence and equality, the churches fight back to control them again, perhaps?”

        Yup: that’s surely what it looks like, doesn’t it!

        I heartily agree with everything you say in this comment.

  21. @Merrial

    You say that the law doesn’t recognise a person until they have been born. that is correct but is not the issue. The issue is what ought to be our criteria for recognising a person.
    Please don’t tell me you believe a person is only a person if the law says they are. This is how the holocaust was justified. the Nazi’s claimed the Jews were people with rights and thus justified exterminating 6 million of them. In civilised democratic societies around the world human rights are based on virtue of the fact of being human not because whoever is making the laws has generously decided to confer those rights to you.
    You don’t have to be religious, or hold to religious views to place value on human life. Are you arguing that no human life has intrinsic value? then perhaps rather than just decriminalising abortion we should decriminalise murder too? Because based on your argument there is no distinction between killing a fellow human being than there is to filling a fly. Both are life and that is where it stops.

    • Nigel – the day Parliament passes laws to control a woman’s body is the same day Parliament should pass laws controlling yours.

      Fair’s fair, right?

      The rest of your argument is based on misconceptions and personal beliefs – not something we should base laws controlling other peoples’ bodies.

      Example; equating abortion with murdering others is a fallacy because a human being is much more than just a fetus. Yes, a fetus is “life”. But so is my arm or leg or ear or…

      • Frank, a human foetus is a human being at an early stage of development. Biological fact. We don’t have ultra sound scans in order to determine what species we are carrying!

        • Yes, an embryo/foetus is a human at an early stage of development. By far the most abortions happen before the foetus is capable of thinking, feeling pain, or anything else. It has less sentience than a pig or a chicken. Are you also campaigning to save those animals lives?

          • Are you also campaigning to decriminalise the killing of born humans as long as they are unconscious?

      • Frank, this may come as a surprise to you but parliament has already passed laws that dictate what we are and are not allowed to do. No one is allowed to use their body to commit murder, rape, assault etc..

        Are you trying to argue that everyone should be allowed to do whatever they like regardless of what is right?

  22. The Green party’s policy statements above fail to clarify the issues:

    1) I wonder if at any point in the “long and rigorous” policy process any thought was given to why abortion was criminalised in the first place.
    Surely this would have to be one of the first questions asked in any rational and honest discussion.

    I ask this because I see no evidence of this question having been considered in any of the greens policy statements/explanations.They seem to take the view that the current law is an unnecessary nuisance that needs to be amended.

    I put it to you that an abortion is a criminal offence for the same reason that murder is a criminal offence.The unborn child ought to enjoy the same legal rights and protections all the rest of us take for granted.

    There is no qualitative difference between an unborn person and someone who has been born.

    2) A woman’s right to choose: No one in a civilised democracy is completely autonomous and has the right to choose to do whatever they like. I doubt anyone in the Green Party believes this. so where did they get the idea that a woman has the right to choose to kill their baby?!

    There is no such right. No one has the right to take a human life without justification.

    3) There is confusion on this issue because the policy will allow for a post 20-week abortion where a woman’s “well being” is in danger. What is not clear is whether or not their definition of well being includes mental health. as most abortions are currently justified on dubious mental health grounds how will the greens policy prevent this occurring for late-term abortions under their new policy?

    4) If a doctors ethics dictate that the unborn child is human person with a right to life then they will feel their moral duty would be to not be involved in any part of the process. if the doctor is required to refer the patient to someone else then they will be facing a conflict between upholding life (the very reason they became a doctor to begin with) and doing their duty under current NZ legislation. This is an unfair and unethical position to put anyone in.

    5) The policy is decriminalising abortion such that a woman can get one simply by requesting it. How is this not abortion on demand?!

    6) This is problematic as it is difficult if not impossible to see how someone can have an unbiased opinion on abortion.Further there is a lot of wrong and misleading information on this subject. (Including information in the current Green Party policy I might add!
    How are the Green Party going to ensure women get accurate information if they can’t even get their own policy document right?

    • Nigel Shelton Owen says:
      June 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      […]

      I put it to you that an abortion is a criminal offence for the same reason that murder is a criminal offence.The unborn child ought to enjoy the same legal rights and protections all the rest of us take for granted.

      There is no qualitative difference between an unborn person and someone who has been born.

      Really?!

      You haven’t explained to us why an “unborn child ought to enjoy the same legal rights and protections all the rest of us take for granted”.

      What do you base that on?

      Because if a human being is more than just a collection of cells, then a fetus is not a human being, yet.

      So what do you base your views on that there is ” no qualitative difference between an unborn person and someone who has been born”.

      What is your reasoning based on?

      Convince me.

      • What do you mean when you say “Because if a human being is more than just a collection of cells, then a foetus is not a human being, yet”? what do you consider it is to be a human?

      • Hi Frank.

        Why ought an unborn child enjoy the right to life?
        A good question. I am glad someone has finally asked it.

        To start of with, the question really ought to be: why shouldn’t an unborn child enjoy the right to life?

        The reason I put it this way is because it is an established scientific fact that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology textbooks confirm this. Human life begins in the womb (usually in the womb’s fallopian tube) when a single sperm cell from the father fertilises an egg (ovum) from the mother. At fertilisation (conception), a new, unique, living human individual is present. He or she is a unique human being, not part of the mother any more than he or she is part of the father.

        At conception all the hereditary characteristics of the new human being are established, including colour of eyes, gender and build; nothing more is needed to determine the development of the embryo. All the information about how the baby is to grow and develop is contained in the original single cell at conception. Nothing is added after conception except oxygen and nutrients (food and water), the same essentials that are needed to sustain human life after birth.

        So a fetus is much much more than just a collection of cells.

        That there is no qualitative/fundamental difference between an unborn person and someone who has been born is equally clear if you consider the following:
        Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant in the way that abortion advocates need them to be. The simple acronym SLED can be used to illustrate these non-essential differences:

        Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more valuable than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

        Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than you and I. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that the immediate capacity for self-awareness and a desire to go on living makes one valuable. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Infants do not acquire distinct self-awareness and memory until several months after birth.

        Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a short journey down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already valuable human beings, merely changing their location can’t make them so.

        Degree of Dependency: If viability bestows human value, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

  23. Hey Rachel, I have a few problems with this law from what you have written above. If you could clarify some things for me that would be great.
    1: you said that the law would decriminalise abortions up to 20 weeks, do you consider Abortion a criminal offence?
    2: ” no one wants to have an abortion” (section 5). If no one wants an abortion then why would you even consider making it easier to have an abortion?
    3: “Better access to earlier terminations will result in less complicated, less traumatic procedures”. This worries me because it appears that you are fully aware that the procedure is dangerous and can cause more harm than good, so again why would you want to increase the ease of having the procedure?
    4: You state that you along with almost every other New Zealander would like to see the abortion rates drop. my question is why do you want to see the abortion rates drop? .
    I also would like to know if the Greens think a foetus is alive or not, and if so then at what point does the green party consider it alive.
    I hope I receive a reply soon
    Also just an observation, I am not Anti-Choice I am Pro-Choice but I choose to not accept abortion. also Pro-life people do not call Pro-Choice people, Anti-life so why is there an immediate negative connotation put on us? (anti-choice)

    Thanks

  24. Leon Borcoskie says:
    June 17, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    […]

    2: ” no one wants to have an abortion” (section 5). If no one wants an abortion then why would you even consider making it easier to have an abortion?

    No one wants to have radical mastectomies to remove cancerous breast tissue – but it’s often necessary for a woman’s health and well-being.

  25. Leon Borcoskie says:
    June 17, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    […]

    Also just an observation, I am not Anti-Choice I am Pro-Choice but I choose to not accept abortion. also Pro-life people do not call Pro-Choice people, Anti-life so why is there an immediate negative connotation put on us? (anti-choice)

    Hmmm, you’ve contradicted yourself. You say “I am not Anti-Choice I am Pro-Choice” and then in the next sentence you ask, “so why is there an immediate negative connotation put on us? (anti-choice)“.

    Judging by the rest of your points raised, you are anti-choice.

    • I apologise if I wrote that statement in a way that was unable to be understood by some. I was simply stating that as someone who is pro-life I don’t understand why we have a negative connotation placed on someone who is wanting to defend life not kill it. I would not call someone who was in favour of abortion anti-life. Not an argument just an observation

  26. A little blast from the past on how horrific it is to abort calves for financial reasons because “vets are deliberately inflicting suffering on healthy animals.” https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/threat-new-zealand-s-dairy-reputation-needs-immediate-action
    That was 2010. Apparently in 2014 the Greens now think it okay to inflict suffering on healthy pregnant women and their unborn offspring. After all if you decriminalise abortion then there is nothing to stop them from being done for financial reasons.

    • @ Stella McLeod: “… how horrific it is to abort calves for financial reasons because “vets are deliberately inflicting suffering on healthy animals.”

      Sigh… These aren’t parallel issues, and it’s disingenuous of you to suggest otherwise. If you wish to make some sort of “slippery slope” argument with regard to the legalisation of abortion, you’re going to have to do better than this.

  27. @ Nigel Shelton Owen and Leon Borcoskie: it appears that you’ve come quite late to this blog post, and that you either haven’t read the comments thread closely, or you haven’t read it at all. It’d be a good idea to do so; the issues you raise have already been thoroughly debated by the participants.

    On this site over the last couple of years, there have been a number of posts regarding abortion, most with extensive comment threads.

    I recommend that you go read Rachael Goldsmith’s blog on the issue of abortion, posted on this site 19 September 2013. In the comment thread, you’ll find Daniel Copeland’s contributions: well worth a read, especially his debate with himself. Here’s the link:

    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/09/19/whats-the-real-issue-with-abortion/

      • @ Leon Borcoskie: “Is he for or against abortion?”

        Why do you ask this? Is it the case that if he’s pro-abortion, you won’t read it, but if he’s anti-abortion, you will? Not very open-minded of you. I’ve read everything that’s been posted, whatever the view of the person who posted it; surely you can do likewise.

        I repeat: go read it.

        • im just wondering if there will be some major bias. if he is pro abortion then he may not have a very well thought out argument for reasons why abortion is not ok so he may just ask questions that suit his argument. an argument with yourself is not a very good way to conclude an argument. you always win.

          • @ Leon Borcoskie: “im just wondering if there will be some major bias. if he is pro abortion then he may not have a very well thought out argument for reasons why abortion is not ok so he may just ask questions that suit his argument.”

            Well, you’ll never know unless you go and read him, will you? Make sure that you read the whole piece: blog and the entire comment thread. Don’t skip through it and leave stuff out.

            • That is the worse answer to a question I have ever heard. And I shall make the assumption that because of your answer he has a huge bias for abortion and therefore does not ask the right questions concerning the issue.

              • @ Leon Borcoskie: Clearly, you’re not interested in the debate – unless, of course, it supports your bias. But then it isn’t a debate, is it?

                Just get out of the way and allow a law change to decriminalise abortion.

                • “Just get out of the way and allow a law change to decriminalise abortion.” I would advise that you avoid becoming angry or frustrated during this debate, as it will cloud your judgement and make it seem like to are only led by emotions, not by the facts.
                  Yes I do believe that this is a debate as I think you will find the definition of a debate is as follows:”a formal discussion on a particular matter, in which opposing arguments are put forward.” It is impossible to have a debate without some sort of bias as then it would not be a debate. I would also like to ask what you consider to be illegal about the abortion law?

    • Thank you for the link, Merrial

      Rachael’s blog does raise many valid points and issues. Points on which I agree many of the real issues lie.
      my ulterior motive has been to move beyond a black and white moral debate and to grapple with some of the real issues.

      I believe we need to recognise the needs and rights of the child and not just the mother.

      This is also why I still feel that the Greens abortion policy of removing all justification for abortions under 20 weeks does not do this. However The Greens do have some very good policies on tackling child poverty which I do support.

      These issues and particularly the issues surrounding child poverty do need more attention given to them. We should stand together and make child poverty a key election issue.

      • @ Nigel Shelton Owen: You’re in the happy position of not being obliged ever to gestate a fetus. Thus it’s not for you to tell women what they should do with their bodies.

  28. This is true but it doesn’t change the fact that every abortion involves the lives of at least two people.
    In NZ we currently have a terrible track record on how we treat our children. If we are going to take this seriously then we need to do more to help women with unplanned pregnancies.

    Don’t you think these issues ought to be the concern of every New Zealander? Not just women who are able to gestate a fetus.

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