Ardern: Abortion 'shouldn't be in the crimes act'

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has pledged to change the law to take abortion out of the Crimes Act if she becomes Prime Minister.

"It shouldn't be in the Crimes Act," she said at the Newshub Leaders Debate. "This is about everyone being able to make their own decision."

National leader Bill English, a devout Catholic, reaffirmed that he was against changing the law, even though he recently shifted his position on marriage equality.

"I do support the law as it stands. It is rightly a conscience issue for Parliament, we would not make it a party political issue but if the changes came before the Parliament I'd be opposed to liberalising the law," Mr English said.

"It seems to operate in a day-to-day way that is broadly satisfactory, and so I support the current law."

Abortion is a crime in New Zealand, and there are only a few options for women who want an abortion.

Women can obtain an abortion at under 20 weeks' gestation under the following scenarios:

  • if the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother
  • if there's a substantial risk that the child would be "seriously handicapped"
  • if the child is a result of incest
  • if the women is "severely subnormal".