The real reason why an Abortion referendum is intellectually bankrupt and completely different from Cannabis reform & Euthanasia


NZ First’s position on the need to put abortion to a referendum is intellectually bankrupt.


Because Parliament is supposed to protect society from the tyranny of the majority. That our political representatives can craft law that progresses democracy, not represses or robs others of agency.

Abortion is an issue that women have to deal with, allowing men to decide what health care women should be able to access opens the process up for injustice and the tyranny of the majority. Euthanasia and cannabis reform impacts everyone so everyone should have a say, but abortion is experienced by women and in that case our elected representatives are asked to cast their conscience as a vote.

We obligate them to vote beyond ideology for the public good when the issue is contentious and requiring protection from the tyranny of the majority.

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This is a moment when we ask our MPs to  reflect on all the issues and cast their vote for the public good beyond Party lines, that NZ First are trying to wriggle out of their democratic obligations by putting it back on the voters despite that being unjust and counter to protecting womens rights is lazy thinking and bankrupt values.

Allowing men to vote on abortion rights for women in a referendum would be as questionable as asking the entire country if we should dump the Māori electorates – representative democracy is supposed to protect against the tyranny of the majority, not weaponise it.

Dear NZ First, you are in Parliament to work, so do your damn job and cast your vote based on your conscience otherwise you are political bludgers shirking their democratic responsibilities.


  1. Correct. Further, if NZ First thought that this issue was of sufficient importance to warrant a national referendum, then they should have addressed it in the coalition agreement discussions, but they didn’t.

    Further, Peters could do this again to try and make himself look significant, but that is not what he’s there for.

  2. You hit the nail on the head Martyn, Winstone is grandstanding he can’t use immigration and some of his voters are heading to the conservatives who i am predicting won’t get pass the 5% threshold thank God.

  3. In my view what we call a “conscience vote” should only be a right to abstain. We do not elect mps to push their personal views on the whole of the electorate, much less the country.

  4. I don’t think that even the males in parliament should have a vote on this, and certainly Winston has no right to offer his opinion on something that does not have any effect or meaning to him. I suppose the conservative ideals of xenophobia, racism and homophobia are attached to religious conservatism, and electioneering is not something Winston will put aside, even if he is supposed to be the deputy leader. Aotearoa is more open minded than this. Embarrassing really

    • Really? Does that mean you think only Maori MPs should vote in parliament on Maori issues? MPs are there to make law and govern – ie to “do their damn job” as has been said. Surely this includes voting on all issues that come before parliament?

  5. Maybe abortions should be mandatory for every third and further pregnancy, so to stop over population of the country and planet? And was the Muslim community, and were other religious communities consulted on this?

  6. “Abortion is an issue that women have to deal with, allowing men to decide what health care women should be able to access opens the process up for injustice and the tyranny of the majority.”

    Really? What about the sperm contributor’s rights?

  7. This is just Winston trying to distance himself from this monster of a coalition he created. He’s trying to brand himself as some kind of savior of ‘Christian Values’ and so prevent support bleeding away to conservative fringe parties. All timed to coincide with the run up to the next election.

    It won’t work – his time is over.

    • Andrew, I agree with all you’re saying here, but there is another dimension at play here which makes Peter’s referendum demand singularly obscene. This is a country with shockingly high rates of domestic abuse, most of it male on female.

      Whatever the reasons for violent male behaviour, it happens. To propose asking all of these sort of people, in fact all of NZ, whether women should have control over their own bodies I think is very sick when the stats are there for the harm which so many men already do women.

      Peters is exacerbating this by using women for political point scoring or virtue signalling or whatever else he’s up to.

      A good man would be looking to do whatever he could to protect women from men who see us as objects for them to kick around or kill, but Peter’s no knight in shining armour, just another shabby opportunist.

      This is the country which actually held a referendum to decide how much violence adults could legally inflict upon children when we should not have had to be asking that question either.

  8. It is irrelevant what NZ First and Winston may want with an SOP to have a referendum, going by the result of the vote on the First Reading on the Bill. At least ninety MPs supported the Abortion Bill, and 24 or so opposed it.

    The grandstanding by Mr Ball, NZ First MP who wanted to have a referendum, then supported by the NZ First caucus, is of no relevance, as the bill will get the support needed anyway, also many National MPs supporting it.

    The details will be worked out, and so we will have to wait and see what will happen, after the submission process, the Select Committee report, and the Second Reading at some time.

    I guess we will have the law change, with some minor, yet important amendments.

    Marja Lubeck’s speech was impressive, as valuable as others, while others by other MPs were also respect worthy, some very emotional.

    Let us move on, the bill will go to Select Committee now. Much fuss about nothing, by Winston et al.

  9. “but abortion is experienced by women” It is also experienced by the foetus . Even if less consciously.
    Marc’s point is taken though; we have to reduce population increase somehow and world war doesn’t seem the best option.
    I have no religious angle , angle , and I don’t wish to offer an opinion on whether any girl or woman should have an abortion or not. It is entirely up to her as far as I am concerned. But. With her interests in mind far more than anyone else’s , the line being constantly peddled that it is something that a woman has done to her body with the implication that this is all there is to it is untrue. And it is an important untruth because the girl or woman concerned is in most cases not going to be able to believe that untruth for the rest of her life. She is going to know she has ended the life of her baby in quiet moments of ever. If she has other children later she will always wonder what the child she terminated would have been like and always regret at some level, for some it will be a personality influencing experience that defines who they are. If you have ever contemplated a termination, and decided against it, whatever the inconvenience, and then raised the child. The thought you once contemplated is unbearable. You just can’t afford to think about it. This is what matters, not the sanctity of life. Foetuses die naturally all the time.
    D J S

  10. The abortion “issue” is just a massively successful political distraction, designed to galvanize those amongst evangelical christian circles. It amounts to a mask – right-wing authoritarians using women’s bodies for quick n’ easy frenzied mobs.

  11. Abortion is convenient for fathers who don’t want to accept their responsibilities and for a state which does not want to underwrite the costs of raising working class families.
    The state no longer needs a massive military. Cruise missiles, drones and nuclear warheads do the business just as well as infantry divisions.
    Capital no longer needs such a massive workforce. Robots are plentiful, and it is cheaper to import migrant workers than to domestically reproduce labour.
    The end result is that women as the bearers of new proletarian lives are no longer so necessary as they once were.
    So just as abortion was once prohibited in the military and economic interests of the the capitalist state, it is now to be legalized in the interests of the state and capital.
    The interests and feelings of women hardly come into it.
    After legalization it will be easier for society or a woman’s partner to pressure her into having an abortion, and easier to blame her for not having had an abortion. “Abortion on demand” (his demand, not hers) will be a boon to the Boris Johnson’s of this world.
    David Stone is right. A natural abortion will always be distressing on some level to the great majority of women and their partners. The psychological and relational effects of medically induced abortions are considerably greater and more complex.
    When we use the phrase “the sanctity of life” we are not denying that life and death go together, and we are not suggesting that lives can or should be preserved at any cost. We are really just saying that hope and love, two quintessentially human emotions, are gestated with and within the unborn child.
    Men are saying that women should “have the choice” but either intentionally or unconsciously, by act or omission, they will influence, direct or pervert a woman’s choice. Neo-liberalism, at both the individual and societal level, fails to deliver the sense of emotional and physical security which underpins a truly healthy and successful pregnancy.
    So this is about women, but it is not just about women.
    It is about the kind of relationship that men have with women, and the kind of relationships that we all have with each other in society at large.

  12. Referenda appear democratic on the surface but display mile-wide inch-deep thinking. Can easily be captured by soundbites and moneyed interests – think Peter Shirtcliff funding opposition to MMP, Family First lobby groups etc.
    Citizens Assemblies that are selected at random to provide a representative cross-section can delve in depth and not be concerned about political ramifications and getting re-elected. The record of CAs overseas is showing that they are the way forward.

  13. “Dear NZ First, you are in Parliament to work, so do your damn job and cast your vote based on your conscience otherwise you are political bludgers shirking their democratic responsibilities.”

    Screw all of their “consciences”. Anything more than a cursory glance at the vast majority of politicians’ consciences will either reveal a deficit or a bunch of easily compromised principles.
    A vote on non-party lines is nominally a “Conscience” vote. Can we drop that term? How about a “free” vote or “individual” vote or “ethical” vote (that would be a good distinction – from the frequent unethical positions of party bloc voting).
    The conscience is a crap place to vote from – it’s all bound up with historical conditioning and dollops of prejudice. A vote that works for the benefit of the people is what I’d like to see – that’s a whole different context – what is pragmatic? what brings least harm? what enables people?
    Less black and white and more shades of grey.

  14. If Chloe had been supported by the Green party and they lobbied all political parties maybe they would have been successful at getting the Cannabis law reform Bill past instead of the bullshit Referendum. But they fear a reefer madness situation. Which is crazy.

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