'Pro-life' National MP Simeon Brown holds back tears in opposition to proposed abortion law reforms

National MP Simeon Brown, self-described as "pro-life", has held back tears in Parliament in opposition to the proposed abortion law reforms. 

Brown, MP for Pakuranga, said while he respects the views of MPs on the contentious issue, "I cannot in good conscience support this Bill". 

The legislation passed its first reading on Thursday night. If it becomes law, abortion would no longer be in the Crimes Act, and any statutory test from doctors would only be required for women more than 20 weeks pregnant. 

Brown said it was "with a heavy heart" that he rose to speak in Parliament on the proposed legislation. He said he knows it's a contentious issue, but made "no apology" in expressing his views. 

"I am someone who has a pro-life conviction - a view that I am not ashamed of - I do believe that all lives matter old or young, male or female, black or white, born or unborn," he said in his speech to Parliament. 

"I do not approach it with any judgement the difficult situations that many women find themselves in every day where they consider ending their pregnancy because of a violent relationship or financial difficulties.

"However, the question we must ask ourselves as legislators is how we can care for the mother and the child, particularly when the child becomes viable to life outside the mother's womb."

Brown said he's aware that many New Zealanders do support safe, rare and legal abortion. But he said he's concerned about potential late-term abortions, pointing to the 20 weeks clause.

"Some have said it is scaremongering to suggest this Bill will allow late-term abortion, and that they are very rare and only required for medical need. If that is what is intended, then that is what should be reflected in this piece of legislation."

Brown held back tears in his speech, talking about his four-month-old daughter. He said to be a parent "is one of the most common things in our world, but it is also a very strange and unique position". 

"To have a child is an overwhelming and for some people a distressing time and it's our responsibility as legislators to care for both the mother and the child."

MPs voted with their conscience on the abortion legislation. While Brown was opposed, many of his National Party colleagues voted in favour of the legislation, such as Paula Bennett, Amy Adams and Judith Collins. 

National MP and Deputy Speaker Anne Tolley said she would support it because she believes abortion "is not a criminal act".