In New Zealand, abortion is not a crime anymore, decided the lawmakers who voted in favour of treating abortion as a health issue. For prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who had pledged in 2017 to decriminalize abortion, the passage of such a bill becomes a real victory.
Since Wednesday, New Zealand’s women are able to make their own decision regarding such an important issue like abortion. NZ parliament decriminalized abortion with members voting 68 to 51 in favour. Thus, the parliament has reformed the country’s 1977 abortion legislation. As Deutsche Welle reports, the new law is expected to be signed by the nation’s governor-general.
Commenting on the reforms, Justice Minister Andrew Little said in a statement that for decades, abortion has been the only medical procedure considered a crime in New Zealand but from now abortions will be rightly treated as a health issue.
New Zealand 1977 law on abortion has been reformed at last
Under the 1977 law, an abortion was considered a crime in New Zealand, except when two doctors certified that continuing a woman’s pregnancy would result in danger to her mental or physical health.
If found guilty of unlawfully terminating a pregnancy, a woman could face a jail term of up to 14 years.
“The previous law required women seeking an abortion to go through many hoops,” Justice Minister explained. “That resulted in delays to access a procedure, and that was less safe.”
Jackie Edmond, the chief executive of Family Planning, the country’s largest referrer of women to abortion services, hailed the vote and the fact that women were finally being trusted to make their own health decisions.
The decriminalization of abortion was a win for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her center-left coalition party. The reform was an issue she had campaigned on when she was elected in 2017.