Nanaia Mahuta under fire for criticising Roe v Wade ruling despite voting against NZ's abortion reform

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta is being criticised after she called the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade "draconian" despite voting against abortion reform two years ago. 

In 2020, the Abortion Legislation Bill, which took abortion out of the Crimes Act, was voted in with 68 votes in favour to 51 against. It meant abortion was no longer a crime in Aotearoa. 

It was a conscience vote which meant MPs could vote based on what they believed, not on party lines. 

Of the 46 Labour MPs who voted, 37 voted for and 9 voted against. The MPs who voted against it were Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki, Nanaia Mahuta, Damien O'Connor, Greg O'Connor, Adrian Rurawhe, Jenny Salesa, Jamie Strange, Rino Tirikatene, and Meka Whaitiri. 

Of the 55 National MPs, 19 voted in favour and 35 voted against. The nine Green MPs all voted in favour along with ACT leader David Seymour. 

The issue has been brought to light after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade on Friday (local time). 

The scrapping of the landmark 1973 ruling, which recognised the constitutional right to an abortion and legalised it nationwide, means each state can decide whether or how abortion is restricted. 

The decision saw several states implement immediate bans, forcing women to travel long distances to access reproductive healthcare. It also sparked nationwide protests as residents took to the streets across the country.

Politicians in New Zealand were also quick to condemn the move including Nanaia Mahuta who called it "draconian". 

"The US Supreme Courts overturning of Roe v. Wade Is draconian and does not support the right of women to choice. How can this happen? (sic)" Mahuta tweeted on Saturday. 

But her tweet was met with criticism with many questioning why she voted against the abortion reform bill in both the second and third readings, if she supported accessible abortions. 

"What's this then?" one person asked alongside a photo showing Mahuta voted against the reform. 

"Now you care?" another said posting the same image. 

"Why did you vote against it twice then?" another asked. 

"Did you not vote against decriminalising abortion literally TWO YEARS AGO??????" one person said. 

"Can you please explain why you voted AGAINST abortion reform in your own country when that made it much easier for a woman to exercise said right of choice?" someone else asked. 

"This statement seems quite incongruent with your voting record…," another pointed out. 

Mahuta voted in favour of the first abortion reform reading in 2019 but against the second and third. She also voted in favour of legislation to introduce safe zones for women accessing abortion facilities in 2022. 

A spokesperson for Mahuta said she was travelling and wouldn't be able to answer why she voted against the second and third readings. 

She's not the only MP to find herself facing criticism in the wake of Roe v Wade being overturned. 

On Saturday, National MP Simon Connor, who also voted against the 2020 abortion reform, shared an image with the words: "Today is a good day."

The image quickly drew backlash with National leader Christopher Luxon later revealing he asked O'Connor to take the post down because it was "causing distress and does not represent the position of the National Party".

But the post ignited issues for the National leader with Acting Prime Minister Grant Robertson taking aim at him over his previous comments about abortion. 

On Monday, Robertson accused Luxon of putting out political spin to hide his real views on abortion. 

Last year Luxon admitted he thinks abortion is tantamount to murder. While he didn't reveal details of his view, in response to O'Connor's post, Luxon said New Zealand's abortion laws wouldn't be "relitigated or revisited" under a future National Government. 

This wasn't enough for Robertson, who said Luxon needs to clarify whether he still thinks abortion is akin to murder. 

Luxon has been contacted for comment.