Acting Prime Minister Grant Robertson is accusing Christopher Luxon of putting out political spin to hide his real views on abortion after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.
On Friday (local time), the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, which recognised the constitutional right to an abortion and legalised it nationwide.
Removing abortion as a constitutional right leaves it up to each state as to whether or how it may restrict it. The decision saw several states implement immediate bans, forcing women to travel long distances to access reproductive healthcare.
The ruling sparked nationwide protests as residents took to the streets across the country.
Multiple New Zealand politicians have condemned the move. But National's Simon O'Connor found himself in hot water on Saturday after he posted a picture to Facebook with the words, "Today is a good day".
In a follow-up post, Luxon said he had asked O'Connor to remove the post because it was "causing distress and does not represent the position of the National Party".
Luxon also said New Zealand's abortion laws won't be "relitigated or revisited" under a future National Government.
But despite his assurances, Robertson urged the leader to make his view on abortion clear, pointing to Luxon's 2021 comment that he believes abortion is tantamount to murder.
"I think New Zealanders need to ask themselves what Christopher Luxon's stance on abortion actually is, he managed to put out two statements in two days over the weekend and previously he's said that abortion is akin to murder," Robertson told AM's Melissa Chan-Green on Monday.
"New Zealanders know where Jacinda Ardern and Labour stand on this, we decriminalised abortion, we put it into a health setting and while Mr Luxon might be saying convenient political things now, I think people know where he really stands and obviously people will judge on what he says as well as his actions."
When Chan-Green pointed out Luxon had been very clear abortion law wouldn't be revisited if he were to become Prime Minister, Robertson said the leader needed to clarify what that actually means.
"Does that mean he will make sure that all National members don't bring forward a private members bill? Would he make sure that it wasn't part of the coalition? The issue for Christopher Luxon here is he said what he believes about abortion and now he's spinning to tell New Zealanders a different story.
"We've been consistent, we passed the law. My view is that it is important for New Zealand women to know that it is settled. We have Simon O'Connor, we have Simeon Brown, we have other National MPs saying what they've said. Chris Luxon is in overdrive spinning against that but we know what he himself believes.
"In the end what you get here is either a party, in Labour, who have proactively set about making sure we protect rights or a party, in National, who is trying to get people to thank them for not taking those rights away."
Robertson said the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade was "incredibly distressing".
"I think it's incredibly distressing for women in America and indeed around the world. Fifty years of what people thought was a settled situation about access to reproductive rights turned over overnight and I can absolutely understand the distress that has caused people not just in the US but also here in New Zealand."
In response to controversy over O'Connor's post, Luxon put out a lengthy statement on the weekend.
"The complete removal of abortion law in the overturning of Roe v Wade in the USA is distressing for many women everywhere and I empathise with them," he said.
"Our situation in New Zealand is very different from that occurring in the USA. New Zealand's abortion laws were debated in detail, voted on and ultimately settled in the last parliament during 2019-2020.
"I have been consistent since becoming leader that these laws will not be relitigated or revisited under a future National government, and these health services will remain fully funded.
"I understand how deeply held people's views on abortion are. It's important to me that women in New Zealand can have certainty that if I am elected Prime Minister these issues will not be put back on the table for further debate.
"Simon O'Connor’s post was taken down because it was causing distress and does not represent the position of the National Party," Luxon concluded.
The Prime Minister meanwhile condemned the ruling, calling it "incredibly upsetting".
"Watching the removal of a woman's fundamental right to make decisions over their own body is incredibly upsetting," Ardern said.
"[New Zealand's] change was grounded in the fundamental belief that it's a woman's right to choose. People are absolutely entitled to have deeply held convictions on this issue. But those personal beliefs should never rob another from making their own decisions.
"To see that principle now lost in the United States feels like a loss for women everywhere. When there are so many issues to tackle, so many challenges that face women and girls, we need progress, not to fight the same fights and move backwards."
And Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick warned that prohibiting abortions doesn't stop abortions - it prevents safe, regulated abortions.
"It prevents access for those without the resources to travel to areas where abortion is legal," she tweeted. "Solidarity with Americans fighting for restoration of their rights to healthcare."
Christopher Luxon has been contacted for further comment.