Acting PM takes aim at Nats over abortion as he faces Mahuta questions

Grant Robertson on Monday criticised National over a post one of its MPs made in light of the Roe v Wade ruling and its leader's stance on abortion.

It came as the Acting Prime Minister faced questions around Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta's social media post on the issue, where she called the Roe v Wade overturning "draconian", despite having voted against New Zealand abortion reform in 2020 in its final reading.

She said overturning Roe v Wade did not support the right of women to choice.

Robertson said: "That's something for Nanaia Mahuta herself to explain. In the Labour Party we have operated conscience votes when it comes to issues like abortion."

"The vast majority of our Caucus have supported abortion law reform.

"As a party we proposed the legislation to decriminalise abortion, it was party policy to do that and move it to being a health approach, we have led the way on this. Individual members will have views, you will need to take that up with the member concerned," Robertson said.

Mahuta was attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda which ended on Sunday.

Robertson was also asked about National's stance on abortion, after a Facebook post by National MP Simon O'Connor caused controversy.

"What we have now is a Labour Party that actually acted to decriminalise abortion and a National Party that's promising not to take people's rights away," Robertson said.

"We know what Jacinda Ardern's position is here, and we know what Christopher Luxon's position is here."

National leader Christopher Luxon doubled down on his commitment not to change New Zealand's abortion laws today, after O'Connor posted that 'Today is a good day' when Roe v Wade was overturned.

Luxon told 1News that "personally, I've got a 'pro-life' position but the reality is in New Zealand there is no need for us to change the laws".

Luxon said overturning of Roe v Wade was "incredibly shocking and incredibly distressing".

National leader Christopher Luxon.

"I want women in New Zealand to have absolute certainty that when I'm the Prime Minister of New Zealand in a National Government that they know our abortion laws are not going to be re-litigated or re-visited, that they know that funding for those health services are going to be maintained."

"There is one view in the National Party and that is that we're not relitigating or not revisiting the laws. In our party we have pro-life, pro-choice views, people with a range of opinions on a range of topics, as we expect as we like to have in the National Party.

"That view was being interpreted as the National Party position. I want to be clear, that's not the National Party position."

Robertson said National needed to answer what if would do if there was a Private Members' Bill put forward on changing New Zealand's abortion laws.

MPs can submit proposed laws which can be debated in Parliament if it is pulled out of a biscuit tin. However, members' bills from National MPs require a caucus vote before going into the ballot.

Abortion law in New Zealand

Thirty-one of the 37 Labour MPs who voted for abortion reform in the final reading are still in Parliament. The nine Labour MPs, all who are still in Parliament, who voted against included incoming Speaker Adrian Rurawhe, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Trade Minister Damien O'Connor, Customs Minister Meka Whitiri and Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rino Tirikatene.

Sixteen National MPs who are still in Parliament voted against abortion reform in 2020, and nine who are still in Parliament voted for reform in the third reading.

In a more recent law change regarding a regulation-power to set up 'safe areas' around some abortion facilities earlier this year, only 12 MPs voted against the change.

That included Labour's Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki, Anae Neru Leavasa, Jamie Stange, and National's Simeon Brown, Harete Hipango, Melissa Lee, Simon O'Connor, Chris Penk, Maureen Pugh, Penny Simmons, Louise Upston and Michael Woodhouse.

All party leaders were among the 108 MPs who voted for the change.