Groups on both sides of abortion debate bring their messages to Parliament

Group on both sides of the abortion issue brought their message to Parliament today, as the proposed law around abortion law reform makes progress. 

This morning, a petition was presented with 13,000 signatures against the Government's proposed relaxation of abortion laws. This afternoon, about 200 protesters marched to Parliament calling for abortion to be removed from the Crimes Act and treated as a health issue. 

Today the Prime Minister said options for reform were still under discussion with the Government, after the draft of the abortion law went to Cabinet committee.

"They'll want to see the final legislation once that process is complete, this is a matter for them though, I hope it's given due consideration but I don't know how people will choose to vote," Jacinda Ardern said.

"Drafts have been discussed already with other MPs, including Opposition members. These are complex issues, and it's not unusual for legislation that's been drafted, particularly around conscience votes to take a little bit of time.

National MP Agnes Loheni accepted the petition from Gina Sunderland of March for Life NZ.

"I want people to do a little bit of soul searching about this," Ms Sunderland said.

"The whole nation needs to be doing some soul searching, MPs need to be doing some soul searching because it’s here they have the power to change things. We don’t want to see it changed, we don’t want to see it liberalised because women already have access to abortion up to 20 weeks."

Ms Loheni said she wanted to focus on supporting mothers before and after birth, and pregnant women who did not know where to turn. She was joined by National MPs Simeon Brown, Melissa Lee, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Alfred Ngaro, Paula Garcia and Chris Penk and Labour MP Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki.

Justice Minister Andrew Little was asked earlier in the day his view of the protesters marching to Parliament calling for reform.

"A lot of people do want to see change, there's a lot of support for change, so it's good they're keeping pressure on the Government to see that change through," he said.

About 200 protestors arrived at Parliament with signs saying, "my body, my choice", "mind your own uterus" and "abortion is healthcare from Alabama to Aotearoa".

Green MP Jan Logie spoke at the protest, saying: "We will support anything that progresses us towards those goals of great quality healthcare, bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom – you have our vote."

Reproductive rights advocate Dame Margaret Sparrow was also at the protest.

"There’s been such a lot of changes in the last 41 years, changes in society, changes in women’s lives, changes in medicine and medical technology, we need to change our law and support Option A from the Law Commission. 

The Government is looking at whether to move abortion from the Crimes Act to the Health Act, to see it treated as a health issue.

Last November, the Law Commission released its  briefing paper  on how abortion could be placed as a health issue. The briefing paper also proposes changes to the law by repealing abortion from the Crimes Act.

The current rules allow for abortion under 20 weeks in cases of serious danger to life, physical health or mental health, incest and foetal abnormality. Sexual violation is a factor that can be taken into account.

A person needs two certifying doctors to provide certificates to obtain an abortion, and unbiased counselling must be undertaken prior.