by Terry Bellamak, National President, ALRANZ Abortion Rights AotearoaIn order to access one of the safest and most routine health care procedures in the world, pregnant people must:• See two certifying consultants who actually make the decision whether or not they can get an abortion (and sometimes the answer is no – 216 times in 2014 out of 13,000 total abortions).• Tell the certifying consultants that their mental health will suffer if they are forced to bear a child against their will (which may be true, but the pregnant person’s own decision should be enough).
- Endure bureaucratic delays that on average burn up 25 days between the discovery of the pregnancy and the abortion (which can mean the patient is no longer able to access a medical abortion, which is only available in the first nine weeks).
The Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act is 40 years old. It was written at a time when abortion was so stigmatised that the royal commission could openly design the law to force women to carry their pregnancies to term in most cases. Only the liberal interpretation of certifying consultants over the years has caused abortion to be more widely available than intended. Over the years, roughly 98% of abortions have been granted on mental health grounds.Justice Minister Amy Adams has ruled out abortion law reform. Apparently, the Government finds the current situation acceptable. So the Government is comfortable:
- Framing abortion as a crime and patients as criminals.
- Forcing pregnant people to lie to get the healthcare they need.
- Forcing a pregnant person to go as a supplicant to two certifying consultants to get their permission to decide what happens to her own body.
- Forcing people who access medical abortion to go to the clinic twice, merely to ingest pills, a clinic that may be hundreds of kilometres from their home – for no medical reason, but only to satisfy a law that was written before mifepristone existed.
- Administering the abortion bureaucracy from the Ministry of Justice rather than the Ministry of Health.
- Forcing district health boards to waste taxpayers’ money administering an unnecessary and costly legal regime.
- Continuing to stigmatise abortion, even though one in four New Zealand women will access abortion at least once in their lifetime.
If you are a person capable of becoming pregnant, the Government evidently does not care that you may not be able to afford another baby, may want to continue your education or pursue your career rather than gestate a baby, or may want to escape a violent relationship with the father. They would rather continue to make your life difficult than reform our 40-year-old abortion law.Perhaps they think you don’t count.SOURCE: Stuff, 16 December 2016