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July 12, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]



Abortion. If you read the women’s issue of Salient earlier this year, you may have noted we devoted quite a bit of time covering the topic, the problems with New Zealand’s current abortion legislation, and the implications this has for women seeking an abortion.

We had an interesting response to the stories we printed—both guys and girls wrote in commenting they had no idea about the process involved in getting an abortion, and the legal hurdles that had to be overcome. As expected, pro-life advocate Ken Orr from the Right to Life lobby group added his two cents on the Salient website, not to mention an entire post on the Right to Life website was devoted to their response to the articles run by Salient.

Abortion will forever be a contentious issue. It will always divide opinions. There will always be those who will oppose women having access to safe, legal abortions. There will always be those who will oppose women having the right to make their own choices when it comes to their reproductive health. The emotive nature of the abortion debate has made legislators—i.e. parliament—reluctant to touch the issue. Such reluctance has not only prevented law reform, it has also prevented informed, constructive debate about the future of New Zealand’s abortion laws.

Labour party MP Steve Chadwick’s recent proposal to introduce a law to legalise abortion is a bold, and necessary, step in the right direction for the reform of New Zealand’s outdated legislation. Chadwick is currently trying to assess support for such a bill to be introduced to parliament. Her bill would see abortion taken out of the Crimes Act, and instead considered as a health matter, with women legally able to access an abortion up to 24 weeks into their pregnancy.

Furthermore, under Chadwick’s proposal, women who choose to have an abortion would be encouraged to do so earlier in pregnancy, and there would be increased access to medical (non-surgical) abortions. If Chadwick’s proposal takes flight and gets the required support, it would bring New Zealand law in line with that in Victoria, where abortion was decriminalised in 2008. According to data from the United Nations, 67 per cent of developed countries have abortion on demand. Surely it’s time for New Zealand to catch up with Victoria and other developed countries?

It’s time New Zealand had an informed, reasonable discussion about abortion. We can’t keep on pushing the issue to the sideline—the ‘deal with it later’ mantra isn’t exactly an effective policy option. We live in a liberal, secular society. We are a country that promotes human rights and personal freedoms. And yet we still have a 30-year-old law that prevents women from making the choice to have an abortion. Women should have a right to make that choice. Women should have the right to seek a safe, legal abortion. Women should have autonomy over their own reproductive health.

It’s our sex-themed issue this week. We’re not just dealing with the act itself, but also various issues associated with it—contraception, the sex industry, sexuality. There’s only so much we can cram into 56 pages, but we hope you find it an interesting read. There’s some pretty meaty issues to mull over, discuss and debate. Sex means different things to different people—there’s no right or wrong way to do it, and there’s no right or wrong view on it. Whatever you think or feel, be proud of your views, and stand by them.

P.S. Don’t forget to get your nominations in for Academic Idol! For more details see page 21.


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Editor for 2010, politics nerd, panda fan and three-time award-winning student journalist.

Comments (2)

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  1. Queenie says:

    “Sex means different things to different people—there’s no right or wrong way to do it, and there’s no right or wrong view on it. Whatever you think or feel, be proud of your views, and stand by them.”

    What about pedophilia?

  2. Max says:

    Be careful what you wish for. Sure, abortion for choice is currently a grey area that is fudged under the ‘mental’ category, but because of that, it’s free.
    If a new category of abortion is created, one that is purely based on choice, you will find that sooner or later it will not be publically funded. Public hospitals are on tight budgets and fund almost no elective procedures, abortion for choice will be included. This means that women getting an abortion will do so legally, but only if they can afford the hefty price tag.

    If abortion laws are going to be re-made, they need to be done right. If we want a forward-looking, egalitarian society, some way needs to be found to value the role of the potential father (who currently has no rights about abortion either way). He might really want a child and be happy to take full responsibility. Instead we live in a society where the father’s role is devalued from day one, no wonder so many men leave their families so easily. It’s not an easy fix, some smart people need to sit down for a LONG time and think hard about this before trying to make it law.

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