Little hope for change with English's abortion stance - lobby group

  • 18/01/2017

Abortion law reformists aren't holding out hope for change under new Prime Minister Bill English - who says he wouldn't support a woman's rights to abortions under any circumstances.

Mr English made the comment to Newshub while on his first overseas trip to Europe.

The Catholic Prime Minister says he is "opposed to abortion in principle".

When asked whether he still believed that in cases of rape or incest, he replied: "Yes, but I accept that people deal with their own circumstances and make their own decisions. I don't judge them for those decisions".

New Zealand Abortion Law Reform Association national president Terry Bellamak believes Mr English's comments regarding rape and incest are "out of touch with the rest of Kiwi society".

"His stance is not principled, it is cruel."

She says Mr English's stance will make their cause for changing the law more difficult, though they hadn't made progress with the government when John Key was in charge.

"They stayed as far away from it as possible at all times."

She says women should have autonomy over their bodies and be able to choose what to do without undue pressure put on them.

Currently, women can only get an abortion if two consultants approve which doesn't always happen.

In 2014, more than 200 women were denied an abortion, Ms Bellamak says.

While a number of other governments have taken a look at their abortion laws, Ms Bellamak says that could force New Zealand to consider doing the same thing.

However, she said she'd like New Zealand to "take the lead" rather than follow.