Hon Andrew Little
Minister of Justice
29 OCT 2019
Right to Life NewZealand Inc.
Dear Mr Orr
Official Information Act request: Abortion Legislation Bill
Thank you for your email of 30 September 2019 asking for clarification of statements I made in Parliament on 8 August 2019 when I presented the Abortion Legislation Bill. I am responding under the Official Information Act 1982 (the Act).
Your questions are answered in the order you made them:
- Please advise under what legislation a woman has a right to choose to kill the child in her womb?
The language you have used in your question is not accurate. As you will be aware, the “born alive” principle sets the legal standard. The established jurisprudence in New Zealand is that human rights do not accrue until human life is possible, and that the widely accepted human rights that we all understand apply when they are capable of being exercised.
I have interpreted your request to ask under what legislation can a woman end a pregnancy. The Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 sets out a regulatory framework for the provision of abortion services and establishes the Abortion Supervisory Committee. Under this framework, abortions can only be carried out if they have been approved by two certifying consultants (doctors appointed by the Committee) and occur in an institution licensed by the Committee. Under this Act it is an offence for a woman to unlawfully take a drug or use an instrument to procure an abortion.
The Crimes Act also makes it an offence to procure or supply the means to procure an abortion. Section 187A of the Crimes Act sets out the circumstances under which procuring or supplying the means to procure an abortion do not amount to an offence.
Other relevant legislation is the Care of Children Act 2004, which provides that a female of any age can consent, or refuse to consent, to an abortion. There are also relevant informed consent provisions that have a wider impact than just abortion, for example, the Code of Health and Disability Services’ Consumer Rights.
The legislation noted above is all available on the New Zealand legislation website: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/
- What is your source of information that virtually all abortions carried out after 20 weeks are because of severe foetal abnormality?
I am refusing this request under section 18(d) of the Act as the information is publicly available. The Law Commission’s report provides information on abortions after 20 weeks gestation and is publicly available at: https://www.lawcom.govt.nz/abortion
- Please provide me with a copy of the document or evidence that verifies your claim that there is no such thing as a full-term abortion?
As noted above, the Law Commission’s report provides information on abortions after 20 weeks gestation.
- You state that you have received correspondence providing evidence of harassment of women seeking an abortion while entering an abortion facility. Please provide me with copies of this correspondence.
Information regarding this part of your request is withheld under sections 9(2)(a) and 9(2)(c) of the Act — to protect the individual’s right to privacy and to avoid prejudice to measures protecting the health or safety of members of the public. I am satisfied that there are no other public interest considerations that render it desirable to make this information available.
- What evidence do you have to substantiate your claim that this is not killing and not murder?
I refer to the response I provided to your first question.
I reiterate to you that the Abortion Legislation Bill aims to treat abortion as a health issue, not a crime. It is a basic human right that we have the right to decide what we do with our own bodies. Your choice of words infers that once a woman becomes pregnant she automatically loses control over her own body. If a woman must unwillingly go through a pregnancy, it is a serious imposition on her freedom and does not respect a woman’s right to make a personal and private decision about her own body.
If you are not satisfied with my response, you have the right under section 28(3) of the Act to complain to the Ombudsman. You can contact the Office of the Ombudsman by email at email@example.com
Private Bag 18041, Parliament Buildings, Wellington 6160, New Zealand firstname.lastname@example.org beehive.govt.nz