Proposed Decriminalisation Reveals Anti-Abortion Shift in New Zealand
The reaction by abortion opponents to Labour MP Steve Chadwick’s proposed decriminalisation bill has revealed a sea change in their attitudes, said Di Cleary of the Women’s National Abortion Action Campaign.
“To a man, anti-abortionists have not responded by calling publicly for an outright ban,” she said. “Instead, they say they just want fewer abortions – a position that blows their whole ‘sanctity of life’ argument out of the water.”
Ms. Cleary said the main anti-choice groups have all stated in one way or another that they oppose Chadwick’s proposal because it might lead to more abortions.
“This position also contradicts their oft-stated claim that we already have de facto abortion on demand in New Zealand,” she said. “Their response has been muddled and inconsistent at every turn.”
Ms. Cleary said WONAAC was proud that the proposed bill closely resembled the woman’s choice position the group adopted and fought for in the 1970s.
“Over the last 30-plus years since the current laws were passed, many millions of dollars have been spent on consultants’ fees, court cases and administrative costs,” she said. “We opposed the laws then, and everyone agrees now that they don’t work.”
Ms. Cleary said anti-abortionists were focusing on the issue of later-term abortions because they had no coherent argument against decriminalisation.
“Late-term abortions have always been available, but extremely rare – and their rate would not increase after decriminalisation. It is simply lunatic to suggest women will wait to have abortions at 24 weeks,” she said.