Nicola Willis says changing abortion laws would be 'dealbreaker', trusts Christopher Luxon's assurances National won't

Nicola Willis says it would be a "dealbreaker" for her if National leader Christopher Luxon wanted to change Aotearoa's abortion laws. 

Luxon came under fire last month after his views on abortion were highlighted in the wake of the US Supreme Court overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, which recognised the constitutional right to an abortion and legalised it nationwide.

Luxon, who is pro-life, assured Kiwis the abortion laws wouldn't be changed if National gets in power, but he stood by his previous comments on abortion. 

The National leader was criticised by Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson who called on him to make his view on abortion clear, pointing to Luxon's 2021 comment that he believes it is tantamount to murder. 

Luxon also faced a headache after his MP Simon O'Connor posted on Facebook celebrating the ruling being overturned. O'Connor took the post down but said he stood by his stance that overturning Roe v Wade was a good decision. The comments drew backlash forcing Luxon to repeatedly confirm his party would not change Aotearoa's abortion laws if elected.

Speaking with AM on Wednesday, Deputy Leader Nicola Willis offered more assurances the party wouldn't change the law, saying it would be a "dealbreaker" for her if it did. 

"I've been really clear that when it comes to abortion and those issues I understand why it's sensitive, it's sensitive for me," she told AM's Ryan Bridge. 

"I think it's really important that people see that National affirms their rights in that area. But I am also really confident that Chris [Luxon] has made it really clear - he's not revisiting those abortion laws."

Willis said she voted in favour of New Zealand decriminalising abortion and trusts Luxon when he says that won't change under National.

"I understand why abortion is such an important issue, it's one of those issues for me that's really important too. When the laws passed through Parliament to decriminalise abortion, I spoke out in favour of that bill and I acknowledge that there are a lot of people who have different views on the other side of the argument.

"Actually it was one of those issues that it would be a dealbreaker for me if I thought that this was going to change for National and it's not going to. I trust Chris Luxon, I know him really well and I know he's absolutely sincere in his view that this is not an issue we are going to be revisiting. I respect that and it gives me confidence so I just want other New Zealanders to know that too," she said. 

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. 

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. 

Willis voted in favour of the bill along with former leader Judith Collins. Luxon wasn't in the party at the time and wasn't involved in the vote.

O'Connor and Luxon weren't the only ones to face criticism over their abortion views.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta was criticised after she called the US Supreme Court's decision "draconian" despite voting against abortion reform two years ago. 

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

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