Government 'poked the bear' with discussion about abortion rights - Ngaro

The Government has "poked the bear" with recommendations to liberalise abortion law, possible Christian party leader Alfred Ngaro says.

The current National list MP came under fire on Sunday for sharing a post that compared abortion to the Holocaust. He told reporters on Tuesday he regrets those comments for the offence they caused to Israelis.

"You know that I am the chairman of the Israeli Parliamentary friendship, I speak at the Holocaust events, ceremonies as well and so I didn't agree that that was in the post, I didn't see it in it, I regret that."

But he doubled down on his views, claiming the Government had suggested abortions up to the full term of 40 weeks as part of changes to abortion law.

"I tell you who poked the bear, it was this Government which decided in their recommendations they want to go from 20 weeks to 40 weeks. Now the question is do you think New Zealanders accept that? Absolutely not."

A reporter questioned that, telling Ngaro only a small number of abortions are performed in later weeks for health reasons, but Ngaro denied it.

"Well hang on there's more than that, you have to actually do your research, you should do your homework," he said.

According to the Law Commission, as it stands currently a tiny percentage of abortions are performed at or after 24 weeks.

There were 24 in 2017, or 0.18 percent. There were 13,325 abortions in 2017, a slight rise from the 12,823 in 2016. The 2016 and 2017 rates were both lower than any other year since 1990.

On top of this, a greater number of abortions were performed earlier in pregnancy, with 59 percent taking place before 10 weeks.

The Law Commission's ministerial briefing paper on abortion law reform did not mention "40 weeks" aside from in two places when listing how long human gestation lasts.

Model C, Justice Minister Andrew Little's preferred option, suggests a gestational limit of 22 weeks.

People would still be able to access abortion after 22 weeks under model C, but they would have to satisfy a "statutory test".

The test would require the health practitioner performing the abortion to believe abortion is appropriate in the circumstances "having regard to the woman’s physical and mental health and wellbeing".