Time to uphold or reform abortion law?
New Zealand’s present abortion laws are based around the 1977 Abortion, Contraception and Sterilisation Act.. This law does not confer or recognise a legal right to life for an unborn child until that child is a person, and that abortions can only be granted on the grounds of serious damage to the mother's life or health. Yet many have claimed that this country has abortion on demand. Right To Life is one such group - except they went to court over it.
Right to Life's lawyer said that the Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) was not supervising the work of certifying consultants as it should and that had led to abortion on request. The High Court pretty much agreed. Justice Millar said.
There is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants. Indeed, the Committee itself has stated that the law is being used more liberally than Parliament intended.The full judgement is here [PDF]
The court found that the ASC has failed to use its powers under the law - powers to review or scrutinise the decisions of certifying consultants. The Committee is responsible for reviewing all the provisions of the abortion law, and the operation and effect of those provisions in practice and it is not doing its job properly.
Instead it has been hiding behind what has now been confirmed as a misinterpretation, of case law on s187a of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act, which states an abortion can only be done if it affects the life or health of the women. The ASC claims
...the wording has claimed to have a defacto liberal interpretation. Case law does not refute this understanding. The Supervisory Committee therefore has no choice but to accept that this is the intent.Not any more. And this is why Right To Life has opened up a can of worms. The Courts have instructed the ASC that the law must be applied consistently, to the letter of the law, not some liberal interpretation of it - although it refused to comment on that application.
However, if a doctor takes the view of the ASC, in that he does not believe the abortion to be lawful as Parliament intended, he could get up to seven year's imprisonment if convicted - because he clearly believes it to be an unlawful - albeit acceptable - interpretation of the Act.
Currently ,women aged 20-24 have 70 percent of abortions. In 2006, 11 percent of women who had an abortion had two or more abortions, . And 43% of all women who had abortions had used contraception.
Abortion costs taxpayers millions - each abortion cost $850 before 14 weeks and $1,650 after. The question now is what happens next? Taxpayer funded abortion on demand sanctioned by law, or parliamentary approved lawbreaking by its failure to do anything about it - ie. the law of common sense. Craig Young has posted his views on the matter, saying current laws are expensive, unrealistic, punitive,complicated, outdated, disempowering, undemocratic, inequitable and ineffective.
Parliament has also ensured that its laws are a farce. At the very least the Government should examine the relationship between abortion and depression, anxiety and substance abuse, but it refuses to even do that.