Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower has slammed National Party leader Christopher Luxon for his handling of the abortion issue.
It comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision last week. Roe v Wade recognised a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalised it nationwide.
The court, in a 6-3 ruling powered by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Appearing on Newshub Nation's panel, alongside NZ First MP Shane Jones and National Business Review senior journalist Maria Slade, former political editor Gower said the issue could impact Luxon, who's openly pro-life, at the 2023 election.
"If you look at the election that is coming up, you've got a drag race between the centre-right (National) and the centre-left (Labour) on the other side," Gower told Newshub Nation.
"There is one way to win that type of election and that is with the centre voter and particularly with the female-centre voter.
"The worst possible thing that you could have in that situation is a leader that wants to control their bodies or criminalise them, it's actually terrible for Christopher Luxon. If I was him, I would lie awake at night worrying about it."
Slade believed the issue might make women "a little bit suspicious" of what Luxon might do if he becomes Prime Minister.
"We know he's pro-life - he's assured us he won't change the law or make any attempt to change the law while he's Prime Minister but we don't know what he'll do.
"It's not a big issue for New Zealand, there isn't a groundswell. I don't think of people who want a law change but I think there is a general feeling of unease, particularly among women about what he might do."
The National Party has been in the spotlight for its handling of abortion since the US Supreme Court made its controversial ruling.
National's Simon O'Connor, the MP for Tāmaki, last Saturday following the Supreme Court ruling, posted online a heart image with the words: "Today is a good day".
Luxon later confirmed O'Connor had removed it because it was "causing distress" and didn't represent the position of the party.
Gower said while he disagrees with O'Connor's views, he thinks he's come out of the saga better than Luxon.
"As for Simon O'Connor, he [Luxon] looked weak on that. I mean, he believes in it," Gower said.
"Simon O'Connor actually has more honour and integrity in some ways. I completely disagree with his views but at least he stands up for it and comes out and says it.
"This guy Christopher Luxon is all over the show."
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