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New Coalition Of Pro-choice Groups Announces Protest

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A coalition of abortion rights groups and concerned individuals (1) will be protesting outside the Court of Appeal in Wellington at 1pm on October 5th. The protest is targeted at the appeal hearing in Right to Life's ongoing case against the Abortion Supervisory Committee. If successful, Right to Life's court action will severely curtail New Zealanders' reproductive rights.

"Women already have to jump through hoops in order to gain access to abortion. The court ruling under appeal suggests that to comply with current law those hoops must be made higher and smaller. We will be bringing along some hula hoops to jump though on the 5th, to symbolise an unnecessarily tortuous process for women: trying to get an abortion in this country" said Emily Mountier, president of Action for Abortion Rights. The Abortion Supervisory Committee has previously described Right to Life's legal action as "vexatious and an abuse of the Court's process" (3).

Here are just a few of many ways in which the current grounds and provisions for abortion are unsafe, unrealistic and inconsistent (4).

The potential for delays in the already arduous certification process leads to later-term abortions, increased stress and other health risks, and greater difficulty accessing abortion services for women who are less able to afford time away from work and other commitments.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee set-up contributes to geographical and socioeconomic inequities in access to abortion: while some women can get abortions in their city; many have to travel out of their city or region for no medical reason.

The laws are patronising and disempowering. Contraceptive failure is not grounds for an abortion, even though no contraception is 100% effective. Rape is only a "factor that may be taken into account" (5) rather than sufficient grounds for an abortion. Most abortions that take place now are done for "mental health reasons" which denies the capacity of healthy, competent women to make their own best reproductive choices.

"We say that bringing this issue before the courts should never have been necessary. What takes place within a woman's body should not be determined by the judiciary, Right to Life, religious philosophies, the ASC and their two certifying consultants, the government, or anyone else but the woman in question" stated Mountier. "The person best placed to make the call on whether any particular pregnancy should continue is the pregnant woman. We demand legislative change to enable accessible abortion on request".

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