Friday, 10 May 2013

The decriminalisation of abortion is back on the political agenda, thanks to Young Labour.

Young Labour believes:
  • Abortion is a health issue. As a medical procedure, what is important is that a woman can give informed consent in consultation with their doctor.
  • Women should not have to jump through unnecessary legal hoops in order to access a medical procedure that gives them control over their own bodies.
  • Access should not be dependent on liberal interpretation of the law. 
  • Safe access to abortion services should be available throughout the country.

Here's more of what they have to say on the subject. 

As the name suggests, that's a youth wing of the Labour Party. As I recall, "Youth" cuts off at 25, but you can remain "Youth" for as long as you keep renewing your membership. Young members of the Labour Party aren't automatically active in Young Labour - they're a separate group within the wider organisation.
Young Labour intends to fight for this by pushing for the decriminalisation of abortion as a policy priority within the Labour Party, along with working with external groups to develop policy to make abortion in New Zealand safer and more accessible.
Emphasis mine. I applaud Young Labour, but there needs to be political will within the wider party to make this happen. If this is seen as a pet project of the kids, it's much less likely to happen. If you haven't written to your MP about this issue, now's a good a time as any. If you're a member of your political party, I'd also suggest writing to the group active in your electorate - your LEC if you're Labour-affliated.

And keep talking about this. The status quo is easy to maintain when people are silent.

This is an issue. No one denies that. The reason we haven't seen this as a political issue is there's very little political will behind it. It's a nasty one to handle; you risk alienating voters, and the law as it stands does allow access for most women. That's obviously not good enough, but I guess, politically, it's been good enough up until now.

There's an election next year. Let's make this a political issue. 


  1. Why do we talk about decriminalisation instead of legalisation? I sort of understand the difference in the context of cannibas, but that doesn't seem to help me here.

    1. First up, we can't really compare a health procedure with controlled substance restrictions.

      Abortion needs to be decriminalised because it is in the crimes act. We want to take it out of the crimes act: (sections 182 - 187A). If it is not in the crimes act it won't be a crime anymore, and there will be no restrictions around the mental health stuff exceptions and so on.

      The certifying consultant stuff is in the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act (sections 10-46). It could probably use a tidy up, but that would have to be after it is removed from the crimes act because it is describes when abortion is not a crime (that where all the stuff about two certifying consultants is specified).

      The base line of the law right now is that abortion is a crime. The base line for most other health procedures is that they are not a crime. (Is there anywhere in NZ legislation that dictates when heart surgery is allowed?) We need to bring abortion into line with other health procedures, or at least into line with the "contraceptive" part of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act, which is actually pretty minimal.

      (Shout out to @Rageaholic_ for helping me answer this question!)

  2. Thanks for that - a more substantive answer than my wannabe language-nerd question deserved!