Hon Paula Bennett,
Minister of Social Development and Employment.
Dear Ms Bennett
Thank you for the invitation to contribute to this important debate on child abuse. This submission is made by Right to Life New Zealand Inc. The fundamental object of our Society is to uphold the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death. We commend you and your government for seeking solutions to the abuse of our vulnerable children. It is a cause of national shame that New Zealand has the third highest rate of child abuse in the OECD. We fully support you in the measures that will flow from this discussion document. As a nation we must succeed in protecting our children.
Our Society is disappointed that this discussion document concerns only those children who have been born. Human life commences at conception and the first nine months of the child’s life is critical for the future development of the child. Unborn children are the weakest and most defenceless members of the human family. An abortion is violence against the child. It entails the violent dismemberment of the child. The killing of the unborn child by abortion is the ultimate in child abuse. You advise that New Zealand is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which sets out basic rights for everyone under 18. This Convention in its preamble states; “the child because by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”. It is the view of this Society that to exclude the child before birth in this discussion paper is discrimination. It is disappointing that the violence against unborn children is sanctioned and funded by the government. Professor Philip Ney an eminent child and family psychiatrist of Canada has completed extensive research into the relationship of the violence against the unborn with abortion and the child abuse of the born child. We believe that there is an important link for the following reasons:
Abortion lessons respect for the sanctity of life
Abortion is freely available in New Zealand, it cheapens the value of children and results in a loss of respect for the right to life of unborn children. Abortion thus results in a loss of respect for the human rights of born children.
Abortion lessons the restraint on exercising violence against children
We have a natural restraint to inflict violence on children. This natural restraint is impaired when we give consent to inflicting violence against the unborn child who is the weakest and most defenceless member of the human family. As a consequence of damaging this natural restraint by consenting to violence against the unborn it is easier to lose control and fail to restrain the infliction violence against born children.
Abortion impedes bonding with future children
It is instinctive for a mother to bond with a child in her womb. This bonding is destroyed when her child is violently destroyed by abortion. As a consequence a mother who has aborted a child could have difficulty bonding with future children, first in the womb and then when they are born. A failure to bond fully with her child, could result in the neglect of the child and make it more likely to abuse that child.
Abortion destroys a woman’s self esteem
Abortion destroys a woman’s self esteem as she may consider herself a failure as a mother that she was unable to protect and care for her child. A consequence is that with low self esteem she could consider herself as unworthy of being a mother which could lead to neglect and abuse of her born children.
Our Society’s response to the questions raised in the Green Paper are as follows:
Parents and caregivers
We support government agencies intervention when there is imminent danger of physical or psychological harm to the child.
The government is prepared to sanction and fund violence against unborn children as a core health service with freely available abortion. The government is providing the community with a very poor example of care of children. The message the government is unfortunately giving to the community is that you may kill the child in the womb but once it is born you may not smack it.
Vulnerable Children’s Action Plan
As the vast majority of cases of child abuse tragically occur within the Maori community, we believe that in partnership with Maori leadership an action plan needs to focus primarily on the protection of Maori children.
Under the Crimes Act 1961, the law does not recognise the unborn child as a human being, this is a great injustice. Human life begins at conception and every child is a unique and unrepeatable miracle of the Creator. To provide increased protection for children we request that the government amend the law to recognise that from conception the unborn child is a human being endowed with an inalienable right to life that is entitled to our respect and protection. This important action would reduce the killing of children in the womb and enhance the value of born children.
In conclusion Right to Life commends the Minister for this important public discussion about the future of our children. We trust that our submission will contribute to a better and safer future for all of our children both born and unborn.
Right to Life New Zealand Inc.