Justice Minister Andrew Little takes on abortion law reform

Justice Minister Andrew Little takes on abortion law reform
Photo credit: Getty

Justice Minister Andrew Little is beginning the process of abortion law reform.

He's been consulting with coalition partners and will soon present a letter to the Law Commission, asking it to review and consider modernising the law.

The aim is to "see whether this law fits in the 21st century any more," Mr Little told Newshub.

"The procedures women are required to go through need some attention."

Mr Little says the Government will also be looking at sex education, "to make sure young people get good information and are equipped to make good decisions about their lives and sexuality as they are growing up."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during the election campaign that the law needed to change.

During the Newshub leaders debate, Ms Ardern said abortion "shouldn't be in the Crime Act", while National leader Bill English said he supported the law as it stood.

Any change to abortion law would go to a conscience vote in Parliament.

"Public debates about abortion tend to stray all over the place… politicians have steered away from it because it's in the too-hard basket," Mr Little says.

Asked on Thursday why she wanted to see abortion law reform, Ms Ardern replied: "Because it's 2018."

She said the current law is "a very old piece of legislation that is due an update".


Abortion is a crime in New Zealand. 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".