It is unfortunate that the conversation around abortion law reform has immediately focused on the fewer than 1 per cent of women who need to access abortion care late in their pregnancy. 89 per cent of abortions in New Zealand happen by the 12th week of pregnancy.
We know that abortions later in a pregnancy are a difficult and complex issue. They are rare, accounting for less than 1% of all abortions. They are never a choice made in isolation and almost all abortions at this stage are because of severe health issues.
Late abortion should be regulated in a way that allows health professionals to consider all the relevant medical circumstances, and the woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances in determining whether a late abortion is appropriate. This is what is suggested in the Law Commission report and reflected in the draft legislation released yesterday.
It is our hope that this legislative process can happen in a way that is non-judgmental, compassionate and respectful and that we remember this is people’s lives we are talking about. We owe it to the people who have made and who will make the decision to have an abortion to have these conversations respectfully.