by PETER GRACE
AUCKLAND — Two New Zealand political parties now favour either full or partial decriminalisation of abortion — and another is talking about making it part of their “healthcare” policy.
On September 8, Act Party leader Jamie Whyte said Act favoured decriminalisation
of abortion, subject to a restriction on the age of the foetus. This was a surprise, given that the party’s 2014 election policy statements on its website are quiet about
And the Internet Party’s “policy incubator” part of its website has a proposal by party leader Laila Harre about removing abortion from the Crimes Act so that it is a “health service” only.
On September 8, a number of local candidates spoke at a candidates’ meeting arranged by St Mark’s parish Justice and Peace Committee, in Pakuranga.
Parishioner Mary Pepping told NZ Catholic that the meeting began with Sr Bridget Crisp, RSM, reading the entire election guide statement from the New Zealand bishops.
Each candidate had three minutes to speak, Mrs Pepping said. A bell would then ring and each
candidate would have a maximum of one more minute. With respect to issues, each candidate had a minute, a bell, then up to 10 more seconds.
Mrs Pepping said she raised the matter of the decriminalisation of abortion, and asked candidates who supported that to raise their hands.
“The representative of the Green Party, and Jamie Whyte from Act, raised their hands,” she said.
Mrs Pepping said that was in contrast to a Moral Compass table published in The NZ Herald the following day, which indicated that the Act Party opposed decriminalisation.
Mrs Pepping said she phoned the Herald and pointed out the error and, on September 11, the
newspaper published a correction and a Letter to the Editor from herself. She commended the paper for correcting its mistake, she said.
The NZ Herald correction read: “Act leader Jamie Whyte supports decriminalising abortion, subject to a restriction on the age of the foetus. A table in Tuesday’s Herald incorrectly listed him as opposing it.”
In the “incubator” part of the Internet Party website is the following statement: “Abortion is a medical procedure. The Internet Party will take abortion out of the Crimes Act and
get rid of the state-mandated ‘legal grounds’ for abortion. Decisions about pregnancy must be left up to the person who is pregnant, in consultation with the medical professionals of their choice. This is a woman-centred approach that is in keeping with international human rights practice, and treaties to which Aotearoa-New Zealand is signatory, including
the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”
Right to Life spokesperson Ken Orr responded that the statement is not true. Abortion is not a medical procedure, he stated, as pregnancy is not a disease.
In addition, abortion is not a human right, and the convention is silent on the subject of abortion.