Exclusive: Government's abortion reform details revealed

Newshub can reveal exclusive details of the Government's abortion reforms.

After months of stalling and behind-the-scenes haggling between Labour and New Zealand First, the legislation decriminalising abortion will be introduced on Monday. It's the first major shakeup to our abortion laws in 40 years.

A woman, who wants to remain anonymous, told Newshub that accessing an abortion made her feel like a criminal.

"On top of all the rest of the trauma, it's really unnecessary and cruel," she says.

Right now abortion is a crime, and women have to use a loophole to make it legal. Two doctors have to agree the pregnancy would put her in physical or mental danger.

That takes time - in this woman's case, two months.

"I had to be pregnant that whole time and I didn't want to be. I was really sick with morning sickness, I couldn't go to uni, I lost my job," she told Newshub.

On Monday the Government is introducing legislation to make abortion a health issue, not a crime.

"If women have fewer hoops to go through and they can get an abortion earlier, then it's safer for them," Justice Minister Andrew Little says.

In October last year the Law Commission recommended three options for reform:

A) there's no test, the woman decides with her health practitioner

B) there's a test and the woman would need to prove the abortion's appropriate

C) there's only a test for later-term abortions - beyond 22 weeks

But Newshub understands the Government has gone with none of the recommendations. It's chosen a more conservative version of option C - there will be a test after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

In 2017, 13,285 women accessed abortion - 96 of them after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

"We're talking about a very, very small number, and usually pretty extreme circumstances for the woman concerned," Little says.

The vast majority of health practitioners who advised the Government on abortion reform didn't want a gestation limit set.

"The best person to make a decision about whether their pregnancy should be aborted or not is the person who's pregnant and nobody else, at any gestation stage," the anonymous woman told Newshub.

But after ten months of Government haggling and stalled negotiations, this was about getting something across the line.

"It's taken longer than I would have thought or hoped, but we've landed in a place where I think there will be good support for it," Little says.