Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is asking for "views based on fact" after National MP Harete Hipango accused her of supporting abortions to full-term.
Whanganui MP Hipango blasted Ardern in a Facebook post on Monday for supporting the Abortion Legislation Act 2020, a law change passed in March that brought abortion out of the Crimes Act.
It meant abortions for pregnancies of less than 20 weeks were decriminalised and no longer require a medical test, while abortions more than 20 weeks must be authorised by two health practitioners.
Hipango, responding to recent comments Ardern made that New Zealand could be doing more to improve infant mortality, said the "hypocrisy is astounding" given the Prime Minister supported the Abortion Legislation Bill.
"This recent stance by the PM is rank and riles me as a woman who is a mother and has also advocated for children's welfare all my professional working life as a lawyer. The hypocrisy is astounding."
Hipango accused the Prime Minister of supporting abortions to full-term, even though the law requires two health practitioners to agree an abortion is the right decision for women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant.
Data from Stats NZ shows abortions beyond 20 weeks are rare. In 2019, there were 12,948 abortions and 70 of them were over 20 weeks - that's 0.54 percent. It's often due to extreme complications where the mother's life is in danger.
Kiwi women are having abortions earlier in their pregnancy. The data from 2019 shows 64 percent of abortions were performed before 10 weeks of pregnancy. This compares with 50 percent in 2009, and 37 percent in 1999.
Hipango was supported by National MP Simon O'Connor who, in the comment section of the post, said the Government "pushed through" the law ahead of the COVID-19 lockdown, and said aborting a full-term baby "sure has" been legalised.
Hipango said abortions have "for decades" in New Zealand been lawful and treated as a health issue. But before the law change, abortions were part of the Crimes Act and women had to exploit a loophole in the law order to get one.
A doctor would have to determine that a women's pregnancy would cause mental or physical distress to the patient to approve the procedure.
Ardern responded to Hipango's comments by asking for MPs to air their views based on facts.
"Different MPs will have their own views and of course it is their right to speak to their own views. All I ask is that their views be based on fact," Ardern told reporters on Tuesday.
"I've seen some of the legislative changes characterised in a way that I don't think reflects the law change."
National Party leader Judith Collins said she hadn't seen the Facebook post, but said Hipango is entitled to her views.
"I haven't seen it and abortion is something that our party takes as a conscience issue. It is certainly not something that we have a party position on," she said on Tuesday.
"I personally voted for the legislation. Harete is very strongly opposed to the legislation and in the National Party people are allowed to have views that are not necessarily my views."
Collins wouldn't say if Hipango had misrepresented the Prime Minister by accusing her of supporting full-term abortions.
"I don't know because I haven't seen it. But I would say that Harete is speaking from a position of her own belief. She's a very strong catholic and her views are her own and they are not mine."
The Abortion Legislation Act passed on March 18 68 votes against 51. Members of Parliament voted on the legislation according to their conscience.
The Bill received more than 25,000 submissions, and the Abortion Legislation Committee - a group of MPs set up specifically for consideration of the Bill - heard from more than 130 people during 30 hours of oral evidence.