PRESIDENTS REPORT FOR 2021-2022 delivered at the AGM held on 27 May 2022
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,
It has been an eventful and busy year again for our society and for pro-lifers during the past 12 months.
During this past year, we have seen the implementation of the End of Life Choices Act in November 2021, with euthanasia now legally available, the rollout of telehealth abortion services via telephone service provided by private health organisations, resulting in an increase in medical abortions done at home, and the passing of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Act.
Your society has been active and busy due to all of these developments, having campaigned against both the new abortion law and the euthanasia law. As you know, we spent a considerable sum of money on billboard, radio and poster advertising promoting the choice to vote No against the legalisation of euthanasia in the 2020 Referendum held at the general election.
Sadly, as you know, the No vote lost and the Yes vote won, paving the way for the End of Life Choice Bill to be passed into law, and to take effect one year after the date of the referendum. Since 7 November 2021, there have been 92 killings of terminally ill people legally carried out, and done under this “assisted dying” law as it is euphemistically called.
Currently we are working on the implication of this new law, by writing to retirement village and rest home and hospital providers, asking them if they permit euthanasia in their facilities. When we receive responses from all of them, we will put out a media release on this topic. It is of great concern, as we know the current euthanasia law is poorly framed, and offers few if any safeguards against abuse, and it may compromise the morality and ethics of rest home staff and other residents, who do not wish to see or participate in the killing by lethal injection of their fellow resident.
The passing of the Safe Areas legislation is another blow for the pro life movement. In June 2021, Right to Life made a personal submission opposing this new law, in front of the Health Select Committee at Parliament Buildings. We argued that this law , which makes it a criminal act to harass or to communicate in any way with women going into or proceeding out from abortion clinics, in relation to their abortion appointments, is suppressing the rights to freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. By imposing a safe zone of 150 metres around the boundaries of any hospital, health clinic or facility where abortion is practiced, it may prevent peaceful assemblies of prolife Christians and others from holding prayer vigils or offering support to those women who are going to their appointments for an abortion. Our society lobbied parliament against this unjust law, and wrote to all members of parliament asking them to vote against it.
This law was passed based on a false premise that complaints of harassment of women at abortion clinics by prolife people had been received, thus justifying the need for the law. We made enquiries of every District health Board in NZ which offers abortion services, and of the Police, and found there was no record of any complaints to the DHBs of harassment against women or staff involved with providing abortion services in the past 2 years, but the Police could not provide any details of complaints to them.
Notwithstanding that the Safe Areas law was passed on 16 March 2022 by 108-12 votes, we continue to support prolife prayer vigils outside Christchurch Womens and Public hospitals. On Mondays a small group of members gather at 2pm for an hour to pray.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the annual Christchurch March for Life, which was to have been held in December 2021 and then postponed to March 2022 was cancelled. We have supported this annual national event since its inception in 2018, by having members of the society march in Wellington, and we have provided logistical and financial support for the Christchurch March for Life.
Also the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil was not held this Lenten season. This was partially due to an oversight in that we did not register for this campaign with the United States franchise holders and pay the fee by the required date. Also however, we have found it difficult to find the required number of people to volunteer to pray for one hour or so during the week, for the 40 days of the campaign. We hope that another campaign can be run in Christchurch later this year.
In 2021 we supported member Sarah-Jane Cleaver’s petition to parliament, which requested that babies born alive after abortions be provided with palliative care. This petition gathered 6586 signatures and was presented to parliament on 30 April 2021.
Our society also supported a petition to parliament calling for the protection of the right to free speech, assembly and association by rejecting the safe areas Bill before parliament. This petition gathered 1806 signatures, and was presented to parliament on 22 November 2021.
Our society also supported the petition of Sarah-Jane Cleaver calling for parliament to legislate to stop taxpayer funding of abortions. This petition gathered 897 signatures and closed on 30 December 2021. It has been presented to parliament by Simon O’Connor.
Our society is committed to the repeal of the Abortion Legislation Act, as it was not presented or debated in a manner reflecting the democratic majority of New Zealanders. The select committee process was deeply flawed, as only a very small number of submissions were allowed in person, and only 1 day of submissions was allocated in Christchurch. Written submissions opposing this new law were allowed, and the majority were opposed to the law, but this was not mentioned in the select committee report to parliament on the Abortion Legislation.
A petition to parliament calling for the repeal of this unjust law via a referendum gathered over 40300 signatures, this petition was not organised by our society, but was presented to parliament, tabled in parliament and then totally ignored.
Likewise, our society is also committed to the repeal of the End of Life Choices Act. This law was not passed in a democratic and fair manner, with over 90% of the submissions to parliamentary select committee being opposed to legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide. However the select committee ignored this majority opposed to the new law, and in their report to parliament they did not recommend that the new law not be presented to parliament.
We are concerned that the democratic will of New Zealand people is being ignored in the process of passing these new laws, and that spurious complaints, for which there is no recorded, are being used to justify the passing of a law such as the Safe Areas Act. This can be seen as an erosion of our democracy and a subversion of the process of democracy.
We are also committed to a campaign to achieve legal recognition of the status of the unborn child as a human being from conception in law, and endowed by its creator with an inalienable right to life.
This means that the 400 year old legal fiction that a foetus is not a human being until it is born, needs to be removed from the law. Currently the law does not recognise the killing of a child in its mothers womb as a crime, except in the circumstance where a person assaults the pregnant mother, causing her pregnancy to finish and the unborn child to be aborted or to die inside the womb.
In the past 12 months, we have made 114 media releases, which is 2 releases per week. All of these have been posted on our society website www.rightotlife.org.nz and also sent by e-mail to over 260 members and to other outside groups, including all members of parliament, and as well as posted on our Facebook page and sent out in our Twitter feed.
Media releases have included 43% increase in babies killed by late term abortions in 2020,
48% increase in medical abortions in 2020 – chemical warfare victimises women and their unborn children
Why no legal protection for babies born alive in an abortion in NZ?
Government an increasing threat to human rights?
NZ government has no evidence to support Section 159 of Crimes Act
Family Planning promoting a culture of death
Abortion Statistics 13 326 children killed before birth in 2020
Killing vulnerable patients is not a “health service”
Why are our church leaders silent when our rights are under attack from the state?
Stop Family Planning killing the unborn and wounding women
Abortion three day waiting period saves lives
Why does the government permit the torture of unborn children?
Government opposes saving babies with abortion pill reversal
Human Rights commissioner refuses to defend right to life of unborn child
Death on demand soars in NZ : 66 die from assisted suicide and euthanasia law
Government’s policy on suicide is incoherent and dangerous.
Your society has also made more than 100 Official Information Act requests in the past 12 months.
In the last 12 months, we have produced 3 newsletters for our members.
We have not produced the printed magazine Footprints last year, as we decided to save printing and postage costs.
We have supported 2 committee members to attend the pro-life organisations leaders conference and retreat, held in June 2021 on the North Shore of Auckland, and in Feb 2022 in Queenstown. Philip Creed attended last year, and Chris O’Brien attended this year. Both retreats afforded an opportunity to network with other prolife organisations, exchange information, and to learn from the excellent presentations made by various experts in their relevant fields. Also it was a time to recharge ourselves, to pray and reflect on our achievements and our losses, and to plan for the year ahead, and to ensure greater cooperation and collaboration among prolife groups and people.
We also supported the Prolife remembrance service held last June in Hagley Park, organised by Voice for Life.
We have donated 6 foetal models of unborn children at 20 weeks pregnancy to the Pregnancy Choice organisation, which will use them in counselling pregnant women at their centres.
We remember those members and supporters of our society who have died in the past 12 months. In particular, we remember:
Peter McMullan, a faithful member and attendee at prayer vigils,
Philip Baird LLB, a former committee member, benefactor and supporter of the Post Abortion Healing Trust,
Hermann Janssen, former committee member and long-time member,
Don Brebner of Tauranga, a prayer warrior for the unborn,
Mrs Lillian Carr, a former committee member and a life member, who died aged 98 years in March 2022 and
Dave Hunter, who died recently.
I wish to thank our dedicated committee executive for their hard work and energy in the prolife cause this last year, Ken Orr for his thoughtful media releases, letters to the editor, OIA requests and letters to government departments, health boards and agencies, and opinion pieces published in some newspapers, Chris O’Brien for his website maintenance and updating work, and for liaising with other prolife groups, UC Prolife Canterbury and Voice for Life, and Paul Ives our treasurer for keeping track of membership, subscriptions and donations, and for managing our banking arrangements.
Also we thank our patrons, particularly Dr, Norman McLean, for his helpful comments and suggestions. We have invited the new Bishop of Christchurch, Most Rev. Michael Gielen, to act as a patron of our society.
I also wish to thank you all, as members, for your support over the last year, your donations and your participation in prolife prayer vigils, marches and events. Without you, we would not be able to do most of the work that we do, or maintain our website and promote the prolife message through Facebook and social media.
I now move that the presidents report be accepted, and invite a seconder for this motion.
Right to Life NZ Inc.