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Safe and legal abortion became more difficult to achieve in the 1970s. The Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion Act of November 1977 imposed even more restrictive provisions on abortion than the Conservative Royal Commission had recommended earlier this year. WONAAC set out to mobilize public opinion by organizing demonstrations, rallies and pickets, and strongly supported the 1978 petition to repeal the abortion law. Although the petition was signed by 318,820 people, it was ignored by parliament, although the law was slightly amended. In response to the growing public debate on abortion, Parliament set up a Royal Commission on Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion to examine public policies on these issues. On the Commission`s recommendation, the third national government adopted it on 15 September. In December 1978, the Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion Act 1977 (CS&A Act 1977) established the legal framework for abortion in New Zealand. Under the CS&A law, a woman seeking an abortion had to consult her doctor and the two medical advisors who would assess the mental and physical reasons for performing an abortion. A surgeon would also be required to perform an abortion. Counselling was also provided to women seeking abortions. The CS&A Act also established an abortion oversight committee to regulate certifying consultants responsible for approving abortions. The law also required county health services to fund abortions.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, several public and private abortion clinics were opened in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. [20] [25] [26] The Labour Party and its coalition partner, New Zealand First, held several months of negotiations on the legislation. The Minister for Children and New Zealand`s first MP, Tracey Martin, is said to have played an important role in these negotiations. Although he initially ruled out a referendum, NZ First President Winston Peters later called for a mandatory referendum on abortion reform. In response, opposition national mp Amy Adams criticized NZ First`s about-face, saying the issue should be decided by parliament. National Party President Simon Bridges has indicated that he will support the creation of a special committee to examine the bill. The vote on the new legislation will be by a vote of conscience. [68] [69] [70] Justice Minister Little ruled out NZ First`s calls for a referendum on abortion reform. National Party leader Bridges said he would vote against abortion reform, but would allow national lawmakers to hold a vote of conscience.

[71] In the 1970s, the Catholic Church, conservative Protestant denominations, and Mormons opposed abortion. In contrast, the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian denominations took a more liberal stance; which sparked controversy among its members. [16] [19] In addition, abortion has received bipartisan support from some members of the New Zealand parliament, including Labour MPs Mary Batchelor and Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, as well as National MPs George Gair and Marilyn Waring. [16] Many of the protesters in this abortion rights mob that took place in parliament in May 1977 were members of the National Action Campaign for Women`s Abortion. Alexander Turnbull Library, Dominion Post Collection (PAColl-7327). Ref: EP-1977-1852 The arguments against the amendment were arguments against abortion itself. The old lies of «full abortion» and «unborn children» have been removed. In 1999, the annual report of the Abortion Monitoring Committee criticized MPs for using it as a buffer between them and abortion stakeholders so that they could absolve themselves of their responsibilities. In response to this report, the newly formed Fifth Labour Party government, which was in coalition with the Alliance Party, attempted to reform New Zealand`s abortion laws. After several months of preparatory work, the cabinet agreed in July 2001 to amend the 1977 Law on Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion to allow a doctor to approve an abortion. Cabinet also presented an additional Order Paper examining the reasons for abortion, possible decriminalization and the abolition of the abortion oversight committee.

However, this plan was scuttled due to growing problems within the Labour Alliance coalition government. [39] In the 2010s, a wave of international changes to the Abortion Reform Act led to a new campaign by New Zealand abortion rights advocates to decriminalize abortion. ALRANZ and other abortion rights groups have argued that abortion is a matter of reproductive health and rights that should be removed from the crime law. In 2018, ALRANZ and a group of women who had abortions filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission questioning the existing legal framework for abortion in New Zealand. [42] In the late 1980s, WONAAC unsuccessfully lobbied several feminist MPs, including Sonja Davies and Margaret Shield, Minister of Women`s Affairs, for a more liberal abortion bill in the form of a private member`s bill. However, the Fourth Labour Government felt that there was not enough support to pursue abortion reform and instead passed the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Amendment Act 1990, which lifted the restriction on who could train and provide services and supplies. Helen Clark, then Secretary of Health and future Prime Minister, sponsored the CS&A Amendment Act.[35][36] Activism for and against abortion declined in the 1990s, but reappeared in the 2000s when new anti-abortion groups formed. This was partly a reaction to the introduction of an abortion pill. In 1982, Melvyn Wall, a pediatrician in New Plymouth, sought judicial review of the decision of two certifying counselors to allow an abortion for a fifteen-year-old girl, claiming they had acted in «bad faith.» Wall`s application was rejected on the grounds that he did not have the right to challenge the challenge and that the decisions of the certifying consultants were considered unverifiable. While SPUC President Marilyn Pryor Wall v. Livingston, hailed as a great loss for anti-abortion advocates, ALRANZ welcomed the decision to maintain women`s access to abortion services. WONAAC also successfully appealed to the Physicians` Disciplinary Committee to have Wall censored on the grounds that he had violated the patient`s secrecy.

Wall was also fined NZ$1,500. While Wall saw the censorship revoked, the Medical Board found him liable for professional misconduct, adding $500 in fees to the initial amount. [32] The New Zealand Parliament passed a law decriminalizing abortion and allowing women to opt for an abortion of up to 20 weeks. The government, a coalition of a Labour Party, a centrist party and a Green Party, has agreed on a law that would abolish the criminal status of abortion, ensure that a decision by the 20th week of pregnancy is exclusively a decision for a woman and her doctor, and make a decision after 20 weeks that is subject to testing. on women`s health and well-being. the gestational age of the fetus and whether it is clinically appropriate. The legislation modernizes abortion laws in place since 1977 and suggests that a woman who has received advice from her doctor should have access to abortion before the 20th week of pregnancy. These laws were designed to be very restrictive. Currently, with more than 13,000 abortions per year (out of a population of about five million), it is clear that the law has had the effect of forcing women and the health professionals they consulted to lie about mental health.

And all the time, women seeking abortion carry the stigma of committing a criminal act for the purposes of New Zealand law. English law, which was applied in New Zealand in 1840, prohibited abortion. In 1867, the New Zealand Parliament criminalized causing a miscarriage. Under the law, abortion advocates were considered criminals, while the woman seeking an abortion was considered an accomplice to the crime. If a woman ordered her own abortion, she was considered a criminal under the law. Therapeutic abortions were available in certain circumstances, such as when the woman`s life or mental health was seriously threatened. In the late 1930s, this right was extended by a court decision. However, abortion was still heavily frowned upon by society, as many doctors refused to make layoffs. [11] The Women`s National Abortion Action Campaign (WONAAC) believed that a woman`s fertility control should be entirely her responsibility and that contraceptive and abortion services should be put in place to achieve this. Strongly feminist, with a broad concern for women, WONAAC affirmed that «fertility control, childcare and economic independence are key issues for women.» [1] In the late 1980s and early 1990s, an anti-abortion group called Operation Rescue New Zealand was active, modelled on Randall Terry`s American organization Operation Rescue. Operation Rescue used aggressive clinics, including pickets at abortion clinics, protests with abortion patients, burglaries in buildings and operating rooms to disrupt operations, and the distribution of leaflets attacking abortion practitioners as «baby killers.» Operation Rescue has also been criticized by the anti-abortion movement for its aggressive tactics, with Women for Live president Anettta Moran rejecting the group`s willingness to break the law.