Hon Nanaia Mahuta,
Minister of Maori Development,
I believe that the government’s proposal to decriminalise abortion would violate Article three of the Treaty of Waitangi. When the treaty was signed in 1840, the Crown gave an assurance that Maori would have the Queen’s protection. I believe that that protection was to include protection of the right to life of Maori from conception to natural death.
The Crimes Act section 182. “Killing Unborn Child” provides protection for the life of Maori in the womb. It is a serious crime to kill an unborn child and on conviction a person may be imprisoned for a term up to 14 years. Section 183. “Procuring abortion by any means” prohibits unlawful abortion, this is also a serious crime and every one on conviction, is liable tto imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years. This legal protection for the lives of unborn children has been in the Crimes Act since 1856.
It is the government’s intention to make it no longer a crime to kill an unborn child in an abortion and to remove the child from the protection of the Crimes Act and to make the killing of an unwanted child a matter of “reproductive choice for women”. These children will effectively lose the protection of the Crown. The children who are wanted will retain the protection of the Crimes Act and the protection of the Crown.
It is my contention that when the treaty was signed in 1840, the Crown was giving an assurance that it was giving protection for the lives of Maori during their first nine months of life which is currently provided in sections 182 and 183.
I believe that it is important to recall that the current abortion laws were recommended by the Royal Commission on Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion in its report to Parliament in 1977. This respected Commission was appointed by the distinguished Right Hon Bill Rowling, the leader of the third Labour government.
The Commission in its report to Parliament stated, with regard to the status of the unborn child; “The unborn child as one of the weakest, the most vulnerable and most defenceless forms of humanity, should receive protection. From a biological point of view there is no argument as to when life begins. Evidence was given to us by eminent scientists from all over the world, none of them suggested that human life begins at any other time than at conception”. [Read more…]