Vote Choice: Winston Peters – the Conservative

29 Jul

vote-for-choice-round_1

Vote Choice: Winston Peters – the (well, a) Conservative

This week’s featured politician is Winston Peters. According to Peters life begins at conception because…the royal baby (?!). We know this because, again, Bob McCoskrie from Family First did the hard work for us in an interview with Peters during which he asked him about his and NZ First’s views on abortion (at 20:35 in the video). The transcript from this section of the interview is below.

The interview, as well as his voting record, highlights Peters’ is conservatism about abortion. He supports “safe, legal and rare” abortions but he opposes the decriminalisation of abortion and actively supports parental notification for young people seeking terminations. In 2004 Peters voted conservatively in three movements to amend Clause 37 of the Care of Children Bill which would make parental notification of a termination compulsory for people under 16.

In 1990 Peters did vote in favour of the repeal of Section 3 Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act relating to contraceptive advice to those under 16. Since then, he has consistently voted conservatively on abortion. You can see his voting record in our PDF of the list of MPs’ voting records on abortion.

In his own words: Winston Peters on abortion

Now, for your information and entertainment, here is the transcript of Peters and McCroskie’s discussion on abortion. Particularly savour the moment where Peters reckons New Zealanders’ reaction to the royal baby is proof life begins at conception.

Bob McCoskrie (BM): We’re up to parental notification. Do you support basically parents being told if their teenager is pregnant and is considering an abortion – do you think parents have the right to know unless there are exceptional circumstances which can be argued through the court?

Winston Peters (WP): If that girl is in the parents’ care, that is legally the parents’ care, the answer’s yes.

BM: Simple as that?

WP: Simple as that.

BM: Is there a private member’s bill coming out of New Zealand First to fix that? ‘Cause it’s dragged on for a lot, I mean there’s-

WP: Well, uh, we’ve got 8 members- 7 member’s bills up now. That is, we’ve got a lot of bills waiting, trying to get them in the ballot paper. Uh, so, if you ask me the question “Have we got such a bill ready?” No. But that’s the first time anybody’s asked us. Amongst other things.

BM: I’ll keep asking [laughter]

WP: Well hang on, we’ve got some serious bills on big issues, about the unfairness of society, the unfairness of the economic policy. Issues to do with who owns this country and the land and the farms and what have you. So I’m not saying that your issue’s not important, but what we have got, waiting in the ballot box, are very important issues as well. That’s all I’m saying.

BM: Let’s talk about abortion. There appears to be a clash in the minds of New Zealanders of whether a woman has a right to an abortion or a unborn child has a right to life. Which side do you come down on?

WP: Our position has never changed, nor has mine since I’ve been a politician. If we are to have abortions they should be [counts on fingers] safe, they should be legal, and they should be rare. That’s where this party stands.

BM: So do you support the Greens’ policy of decriminalising abortion?

WP: No we don’t.

BM: But you’ve just argued that they should be legal. So-

WP: Oh no no. If it happens, our position is they should be safe [counts on fingers], they should be legal and they should be rare.

BM: So legal within the guidelines that are in there.

WP: That’s right. And don’t forget I emphasise the word rare. That’s not what’s happening now as you well know. The Greens’ want to open, uh, no rules at all. The Greens are not just saying we want to make abortions legal, as you well know they are now. They want total removal of all restrictions on this issue.

BM: So you’ll oppose the decriminalisation. What about in terms of, for example, gender selection, Down syndrome, where there’s abnormalities, I mean, the Greens’ policy suggests that right up to 40 weeks, a child with abnormalities-

WP: But we’re ah- let me tell you about this year. The Greens have never been in political power since they began in the name and the shape of the title of the Values Party in 1972. They’ve been around a long time and have never made it and I don’t want to be on the stage, wasting my time talking about a party that’s never made it.

BM: Can we go back to that- [Applause and cheering from the audience]

WP: Well, this interview is about a party that has made it. And it’s gonna make it big time in 2014.

BM: So the Greens- ah, well there’s another party that reckons that a child at 19 weeks is entitled to be aborted but at 20 weeks you shouldn’t abort it. When do you, for your personally, when do you think life begins? When does an unborn child have a right to life, at what point in their life?

WP: Well speaking biologically, life begins from the very start.

BM: Conception?

WP: Yes. [Applause] Well isn’t it curious, it was the royal family and the day we all knew, as members of the Commonwealth, we began, we’d think “There is a baby. It’s gonna be an heir to the throne”. Right? Now look at that concept, as opposed to what people say in other circumstances. So my answer is, from the beginning.

So that’s that. Remember, we encourage members to go along to candidate forums or local meetings and ask candidates where each stands on abortion. You can send through your intel to info@alranz.org so we can begin to profile candidates and their views. Or if you would like to feature a candidate and write up their position for the blog, please send that through to us for posting.

 

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Let’s Change the Way we Talk about Abortion

26 Jul

By Michele A’Court, ALRANZ Member
(originally written for the Christchurch Press, June 2014)

Two weeks ago, the Greens reignited our conversation about abortion, describing our current legislation as “dishonest” and proposing that all terminations be decriminalised.

Ok, “reignited” is a strong word. As a conversation starter, raising the subject of abortion pretty much guarantees most politicians are going to dash away like they’ve just remembered they left the iron on at home.

Anti-abortionists worry a fresh look at our 37-year-old legislation will mean we’ll end up with something more liberal; pro-choice advocates fear new regulations could end up more restrictive. And so we stop talking about it at all.

Here’s the thing: If we really want to change our abortion law, we need to change the way we talk about it amongst ourselves. Ordinary women – the 15,000 of us each year who terminate a pregnancy – need to be more open and honest about our experience of it. I’ll start.

Several years ago, I had an abortion. It took some courage and it made me sad, but it was the right thing to do – for me, and for the child I already had, and the other people I care for.

I felt ashamed at the time for becoming pregnant – I was, I felt, old enough and smart enough to know better. But I am not at all ashamed of terminating the pregnancy. I am endlessly grateful to the medical practitioners who cared for me through the process. Not everyone was kind, but most of them were.

I have imagined what my life would have been like if terminating an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy had not been an option for me, and what I feel more than anything is a tremendous sense of relief that one moment of my own recklessness was not allowed to completely redefine all of our lives.

Several years after my own abortion, I met a woman who works at an Australian clinic which specialises in late-term abortions. Wendy said all kinds of people go there – you will see married couples who simply can’t manage another child; very young girls with their parents; and middle-aged women who have mistaken pregnancy for menopause.

In the state of Victoria, abortion is available up to 24 weeks on request. Women, Wendy said, come from all over Australia and New Zealand – there are few practitioners in either country who will perform terminations after 18 weeks, even though it is legal.

Abortions after 18 weeks are more complicated – a surgical rather than medical procedure – and women arrive at the clinic where Wendy works each Monday and stay – usually with family or friends for support – for the whole week.

I asked Wendy why she chose to work there. She said it was for the remarkable change she saw each week in the women – from arriving on Monday, hunched and sad, and leaving on Friday “looking like they can do anything, like they can take on the world”.

And so I stand firmly with Hillary Clinton on this: abortion should be safe, legal and rare.

For more from Michele, visit http://www.micheleacourt.co.nz/. If you’d like to write a post for us, we’d love to hear from you!

 

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Vote Choice: John Key – the Fence Sitter

22 Jul

vote-for-choice-round_1Welcome to ALRANZ’s Vote Choice series, where we offer you our views on candidate’s opinions on abortion and reproductive justice, so that you can make an informed decision on 20 September. We encourage members to go along to candidate forums or local meetings and ask candidates where each stands on abortion. You can send through your intel to info@alranz.org so that we can begin to profile candidates and their views. Or if you would like to feature a candidate and write up their position for the blog, please send that through to us for posting.

John Key – the fence sitter

This week’s featured politician is John Key. Thanks to his recent interview with Bob McCoskrie from Family First, we now have a better sense of his position on abortion: fence sitter – not coming down clearly John_Keyfor or against.  Key said he wasn’t in favour of law reform; he is in favour of parental notification; but he didn’t seem to be against abortion per se.

The interview with Key highlighted two things: one, the Prime Minister doesn’t have a clear grip on the current laws; and two, assuming these were genuine responses, he expressed some mixed feelings on abortion.  On the former, Mr. Key is not alone in being confused by the law. You only have to read the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion (CS&A) Act to become terribly confused about just how a pregnant person goes about getting a legal abortion. However, while non-elected officials can be excused from reading dry pieces of legislation, politicians shouldn’t be forgiven their ignorance, particularly in the context of a recorded interview where you likely already know the questions and you still don’t bother to do your homework!

Voting Record

The minimal amount of information we have on Key’s record on abortion comes from previous votes on legislation and the appointment of Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) members, and reflects the fence sitter position. The 2004 debate on the Care of Children Bill on parental advisement is the only piece of legislation we have to go on (all the other votes were in relation to the appointment of ASC members where he voted liberally twice (both in 2007), conservative once (2007) and abstained/absent in 2011).  He voted in favour of Judith Collin’s amendment, which would have made parental notification for an under-16 year old’s abortion mandatory.

In the McCoskrie interview, Key simultaneously reinscribes abortion stigma by using some quintessential anti-language, saying he wouldn’t want to liberalise our current abortion laws because “people would see it [abortion] as a legitimate contraception device,” while also accepting that most abortion decision are made because it is “an unwanted pregnancy and they feel that they can’t cope or don’t want to at that point in their life raise a child”.  Obviously the claim that abortion is a type of contraception is spurious, or as one ALRANZ member said, “that is literally impossible, to use abortion as contraception”: one prevents fertilisation and pregnancy in the first instance, while the other is used to end a pregnancy. Claims like this are often used to argue against abortion and implicitly mean something like, “Hey women, clearly you were irresponsible by getting pregnant in the first place so now you can’t or shouldn’t be trusted to make a decision about terminating a pregnancy”.  Yeah, no.

After stating clearly that he is opposed to liberalising the law because it would cause some spate of abortions as a form of contraception, Key then acknowledged that raising children is a pretty difficult thing to do, particularly if you are a solo mum. Reading between the lines, he seems to be arguing for abortion under socio-economic grounds! And while he doesn’t want to move the debate forward, he also doesn’t want to go backward: “And I suppose my only point would be if abortion laws went the other way you would without doubt have more young people having children and the question is would they be in the best situation to cope with that if by definition they’re saying at the moment they can’t”. And we all know the answer to this is no – women would not be in a better situation if they were forced to carry a pregnancy to term and raise a child they felt they were not able or capable of providing for.

Unfortunately that part of the interview ends on a sour note, with Key firmly supporting parental notification…

All in all, a mixed bag from our Prime Minister in terms of abortion law reform and trusting women.


Can You Help?

We need a couple of sturdy volunteers with strong stomachs to listen through Bob’s interviews with (links are to YouTube videos) Winston Peters of New Zealand First and Colin Craig of the Conservatives to listen out and transcribe for use in our series any comments they make about reproductive rights and justice issues. Email us if you can help: info@alranz.org


Free!!! Vote Choice Stickers & Badges are Now Available. Click here for ordering info

 


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Election Badges & Stickers!

17 Jul

We’ve added to our badge and sticker collection with two election-focused designs, created by the wonderful Zenaida and made by Verboom in Christchurch.

voteForChoice_Page_3voteForChoice_Page_2Check our entire inventory out in the image below, with $1 and $2 coins for size comparisons. If you’re into specifics, the badges are 32mm, the stickers are 42mm.

The badges cost $1 each to make and the stickers 26 cents. We’d welcome koha and postage if you can afford it, but it’s fine if you can’t! There’s an order form at the bottom of this post.

Various ways to donate are here, including our bank account details, address for cheques and links to our Givealittle page in case you’d like to make a donation by credit card.

 

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John Key on Abortion

16 Jul

voteForChoice_Page_3Bob McCoskrie of Family First NZ interviewed the Prime Minister John Key earlier this month at the 8th annual NZ Forum on the Family. They discussed a range of issues including marriage equality, “smacking”, “euthanasia”, prostitution, decriminalising marijuana and, yes, abortion. The whole video is on YouTube (and the abortion discussion starts around  29 minutes). We thought you might be interested in our transcript of that part of the discussion. 

Bottom line: John Key says he opposed liberalising abortion law because it would encourage people to treat abortion as contraception. Sigh! (See highlighted passages). 

Bob McCoskrie: The Greens say that an unborn child at 19 weeks can be aborted but an unborn child at 20 weeks cannot be, because they’ve said there’s a 20-week cut-off. There’s this argument about where does the right for a woman to have an abortion against the right of an unborn child to life. Where do you put that point at?

John Key: If you look at the current law and accept that there will be lots of interpretations within that law so there are as you probably know because you know more about it than I probably ever will, but if you look at that law, there’s lots of situations where an abortion is legally acceptable.

BM: But effectively it is abortion on demand we have in New Zealand isn’t it – 99 percent of abortions are approved.

Bob McCoskrie of Family First NZ and Prime Minister John Key at the NZ Forum on the Forum earlier this month.

Bob McCoskrie of Family First NZ and Prime Minister John Key at the NZ Forum on the Forum earlier this month.

JK: My guess is that’s probably right, a) because of the stats that you quote and b) while in theory there are examples that say ‘well it’s under this – it’s under 20 weeks gestation period but then it sort of goes into if there was a parent, sibling, orwhatever it is – there’s various legal things – but in the end I think it’s about the impairment on the mother and the child so in reality yes. So the reason I’m opposed to changing the law is that again, I think the law broadly works; I accept that it’s likely that the bulk of people that are terminating pregnancy are probably doing so on the basis that they – it’s an unwanted pregnancy and they feel that they can’t cope or don’t want to at that point in their life raise a child. So I think the issue there is that if you went to further liberalisation my concern I think would be that people would see that as a legitimate contraception device in a way that all of a sudden they would be more encouraged to go down that path and be less careful, so I’d be opposed to that.

Continue reading

Why the Greens’ Abortion Policy Is So Important

8 Jul
By Dr. Morgan Healey, President ALRANZ

Note: Alranz exec members wrote two op-eds that were submitted to The New Zealand Herald (APN) and The Waikato Times (Fairfax) on 8 June, two days after the Green’s policy was announced. They weren’t published so we thought we’d reproduce them here. This is the first, by Morgan Healey, submitted to the Herald. We will post the second in a few days.)

voteForChoice_Page_2The Green Party last week [6 June] became the first political party in Aotearoa New Zealand to set formal policy on abortion. With the ratification of their women’s health policy, the Greens took a momentous step forward in the fight for abortion law reform; something organisations like the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) have been advocating for since 1971. Despite what anti-abortion groups have said, this is not a radical or extreme policy. It actually places abortion within the continuum of sexual and reproductive health care – asserting what most of us already know – abortion is a necessary medical service that does not need to be regulated by archaic, confusing or harmful laws that restrict access and limit bodily autonomy. The Greens’ spokesperson on the policy, MP Jan Logie, was unambiguous in her statement about this: abortion is not a crime, so let’s stop treating it as such!

While this policy does not change the current criminalisation of abortion, it is important for two reasons: it makes abortion a topic for discussion in an election year, and it sends the message that women must be trusted to make their own reproductive decisions.

Talking about abortion in an election year is a brave step and one I applaud the Greens for taking. I know it would have been just as easy to wait and release the policy after the election or not bother to talk about abortion at all (which seems to be the political default), but they didn’t. This sends a clear signal not just to the electorate but also to the other parties: women’s autonomy and rights should not be ignored for political gain. We haven’t seen this type of political commitment to reproductive justice since then Labour MP Steve Chadwick tried to tackle abortion in 2010, and was subsequently punished for her bold efforts.

I recognize that abortion is not going to be the defining issue of this election. ALRANZ is a non-partisan organisation, and as such hopes Labour, National, New Zealand First, Māori and Internet/Mana sit up and take notice of the Greens’ action; not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it also contests the ‘scariness’ of abortion as a political issue.  If the Greens’ policy can begin to normalise abortion as topic for discussion, then this is indeed a win for the pro-choice movement.

And this leads into the second reason the Greens’ policy is so important – taking the exceptional out of abortion and attempting to destigmatise it. On average, one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. In 2012, 14, 745 women had an abortion in Aotearoa. I doubt any of these women planned to have an unintended or unwanted pregnancy, but for whatever reason they made the best choice for themselves in that moment. Whether or not they realized it, their actions were governed by the Crimes Act, their decision was not their own, but sanctioned by two certifying consultants; and 98% of them were deemed mentally at risk in order to meet the restrictive grounds for an abortion.  The only thing exceptional about New Zealand’s abortions laws is how unacceptable they are, and that in 2014 women continue to be treated as second-class citizens. What is even more appalling is that in general politicians have allowed this to happen.

The Greens have challenged this reality, asserting it is time to trust pregnant people to make decisions about their reproduction. To quote Logie,

“…it is time that abortion is removed from the Crimes Act, and brought out from that shadow of judgment and mistrust of women, because ultimately it is a health issue.”

For far too long politicians have been able to remain silent on abortion. I am hopeful that this new policy will encourage and enable other political parties to step out of shadows of anti-choice intimidation and fear mongering. The pregnant people of this country deserve more than fragmented and criminalised reproductive health care. The electorate of this country can help to change this – ask your local candidate or political party about abortion this election year. Make sure politicians know that the continued criminalization of abortion is not acceptable and it is time for law reform.

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‘Rough on Women': Media Release, Excerpt

4 Jul

ABORTION LAW REFORM ASSOCIATION OF NEW ZEALAND

1 July 2014                                              FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Book Launch: The Untold Stories of Abortion in 19th Century New Zealand

Margaret_Book_Cover

The tragic toll of unsafe illegal abortion in 19th Century New Zealand is the focus of a powerful new book by longtime women’s health advocate Dame Margaret Sparrow that is being launched today in Wellington. (Photos of launch by Noemi.)

Dame Margaret Sparrow at the launch of 'Rough on Women' at Unity Books on 1 July 2014. (Unity's Jacqui Brokenshaw, right, also spoke at the launch.)

Dame Margaret Sparrow at the launch of ‘Rough on Women’ at Unity Books on 1 July 2014. (Unity’s Jacqui Brokenshaw, right, also spoke at the launch.)

The book Rough on Women: Abortion in 19th-Century New Zealand (Victoria University Press) tells the stories of 25 women who died at a time when choices were severely limited.

Continue reading

Rough on Women, by Margaret Sparrow

25 Jun

Coming soon from Victoria University Press.

Margaret_Book_Cover

 

 

Media Release: New Abortion Stats Highlight Need for Research

18 Jun

ABORTION LAW REFORM ASSOCIATION OF NEW ZEALAND

18 June 2014                                                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Abortion Figures Highlight Need for Fact-Based Debate on Modernising NZ Law 

The continuing decline in the abortion rate announced today, together with a national discussion about decriminalising abortion, underscore the urgent need this election year for research into the real reasons women seek terminations, Dr. Morgan Healey, president of ALRANZ, said today.

“Today’s figures come amid a welcome national discussion, sparked by the Green Party’s policy to get abortion out of the Crimes Act, but the statistics highlight yet again that we actually have no hard data on why the rate is falling or on why women seek abortions in the first place,” Dr. Healey said.

ALRANZ believes solid data about abortion in New Zealand is needed to make sure any new legislation is fact-based. “It would also help end some of the scare-mongering around a law change by anti-abortion groups,” Dr. Healey said.

“Regardless of whether the numbers are up or down,” she said, “people who have abortions have to jump through a series of legal hoops because abortion is criminalised in New Zealand. We’re long overdue a change and politicians need to stop dodging the issue and take a stand, as the Green Party has done.”

Dr. Healey said the current law, which only allows abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act, adds to abortion stigma and actively suppresses a fact-based debate about the issue.

When the abortion laws were passed in 1977, they were based on a Royal Commission report that explicitly stated that no “authoritative study” on the reasons women seek abortions had been made in New Zealand. “Sadly, that’s pretty much still the case,” Dr. Healey said.

Some highlights from today’s abortion figures (for 2013 year) include:

• A continued drop in the abortion rate (abortions per 1,000 women) to 15.4 (down from 16.1 the previous year), its lowest since 1994.

• A continued drop in overall abortion numbers at 14,073 (its lowest since 1995, down from 14,745 in 2012)

• A continued downward trend in abortions among the very young (11-14 year olds) and teenagers (15-19 year olds)

• Most abortions – 64 percent – were a woman’s first.

For more information about ALRANZ visit www.alranz.org

info@alranz.org

 Visit Statistics NZ for the full data sheets on abortion.

Media Release: Greens Policy to Decriminalise Abortion

6 Jun

Exciting news today: The Greens are now the first (and only) party to directly address abortion, to talk about it and to say that regulating abortion as a crime needs to change. It’s definitely worth reading the whole policy, which you can access by clicking here. And here is the Greens’ media release.

Here’s a link to RNZ’s report this morning.

We urge our members and supporters of abortion rights to please write, tweet, post, blog, whatever, in support of this important move because you know for sure that Green policy makers will need support. Contact the Greens here, write to your local MP and candidate suggesting they follow suit and support the right to choose, write to your local paper. Go for it people, you know what to do!

LINKS LIST UPDATED 16 JUNE 2014: Some Links

• Rachael Goldsmith at The Daily Blog: The Green Party Policy to Make Abortion Safe and Legal.
• Coley Tangerina: Some Things to Remember When Discussing Decriminalising Abortion.
• Kiwiblog: Greens Call for Abortion Law to Reflect Practice.
• LadyMac at The Daily Blog: Congratulations to the Greens for Taking a Stand on Abortion.
• AlisonM at The Hand Mirror: Abortion on the Agenda: Thanks Greens!
• Emma Hart at Public Address Drops the A-Bomb.
• Word on the Street. (9 June) Vox Pop video by Wgtn college students at Yours.net.nz
• Unmentionable Issues Need Champion by Martyn Bradbury. Herald on Sunday (15 June)
• Daphna Whitmore at Redline: Getting Abortion Out of the Crimes Act (16 June)
• Is Abortion Law Due for a Shakeup, by Shabnam Dastgheib, Sunday Star Times (16 June)
• Sunday Star Times editorial on abortion: (links to PDF) “Abortion is a topic we can no longer ignore.” (16 June)
• Julie Fairey at the Hand Mirror. “Not what ‘abortion on demand’ looks like, folks” (16 June)
• Russell Brown at Hard News. “Practically Jokers” (On Colin Craig’s ‘position’) (16 June)

Below is a joint media release, (and here’s a link to it at Family Planning):

Media Release: Family Planning, Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand

The release of a women’s policy, including a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy, provides a platform to discuss these issues more widely during the election campaign.

The Green Party has today released its Women’s Policy. Family Planning and the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) say having specific policy platforms on sexual and reproductive health is an important step towards having these issues more widely debated and possibly making changes that will benefit women. They hope it will encourage women to think about policies which would make a real difference in their lives.

Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond says it is encouraging to see a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy that addresses issues of access and availability of services. Family Planning has been calling for some time for the development and implementation of a sexual and reproductive health policy to bring services together to prioritise key areas and allow the sector as a whole to address inequalities and inequities – for individuals and at a population level.

“The language of the policy, in terms of trusting women to make good decisions for themselves and their families, is one that resonates,” Ms Edmond says.

“In particular, any move to ensure costs and waiting lists are not barriers to accessing contraception would be a significant gain for New Zealand women. We know, from reviews such as that into maternity services at Counties Manukau DHB, that many women can’t access the services they want when they need to. This puts unnecessary pressures on women – and ultimately on the health system itself.”

ALRANZ president Dr Morgan Healey says the policy’s strong statement on abortion law reform – in particular its view that women should have the right to choose – is welcomed by the organisation’s membership.

“Abortion is a crime in New Zealand – made legal only if two doctors agree that the pregnancy would seriously harm the woman’s mental or physical health or in cases of severe foetal abnormality ,” Dr Healey says.

“Our current laws are punitive, expensive and often mean pregnant people are not able to access best practice services. The Green Party’s policy is an important step toward integrating and normalising abortion as a necessary reproductive health care service. ”

ALRANZ has compiled a fact sheet of 16 Reasons why New Zealand’s abortion law should be changed.

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