Abortion should be rare, safe and legal - Simon Bridges

  • 28/05/2018

Leader of the National Party Simon Bridges believes there's no case for change when it comes to abortion law in New Zealand.

Mr Bridges told RNZ New Zealand's abortion law is working well.

"I think what it is is a situation where we want abortions to be rare, safe and legal. I'd put the emphasis, personally, on rare.

"I don't see the case for change."

Mr Bridges' use of the phrase "rare, safe and legal" is an echo of a Republican Party line.

Bill Clinton used the phrase "safe, legal and rare" to describe his policy on abortion in 1996. It was used again by Hillary Clinton on the 2008 campaign trail. She added -"by rare, I mean rare."

The discussion of abortion law reform comes as Ireland made history this week, legalising abortion in a landslide referendum.

Pro-choice advocates in New Zealand say Ireland's abortion law will now leapfrog New Zealand's. Here, abortion is in the Crimes Act and most are granted on the grounds continuing the pregnancy would pose a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother.

Abortion is also legal if there is a substantial risk the child would be "seriously handicapped", the child is the result of incest or - note the archaic language - the woman is "severely subnormal".

New Zealand's pro-choice campaigners say the law needs to change. Terry Bellamak from Alranz Abortion Rights Aotearoa told Newshub abortion law should be a health issue.

"Abortion care is regular health care that people need. We trust people to choose it for themselves, to decide for themselves whether or not they need that care. That's what our laws should reflect - that kind of trust in pregnant people."

In the year ended 2016, 12,823 abortions were performed in New Zealand. Fifty-seven percent of abortions were performed before the 10th week of pregnancy.

The New Zealand Government has asked the Law Commission to look at New Zealand's abortion law, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in 2017 it should not be in the Crimes Act.

Justice Minister Andrew Little told Stuff a conscience vote on a change to abortion law could happen next year.