New Zealand women who sought abortions a hundred years ago were degraded, treated cruelly and had to fight to have access to this restricted procedure. For Kiwi women today, not much has changed.
Under our current abortion laws, a person cannot terminate a pregnancy unless they have two certifying consultants—say your GP or a specialist—who approve the decision under the incredibly narrow grounds of the Crimes Act. These grounds do not include rape, contraception failure or the inability to support a child.
ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa called the law “archaic” and has brought a complaint to the Human Rights Commission about how it discriminates against women and pregnant people. The grievance is supported by five individuals who have all been through the system and have experienced “hurt feelings, loss of dignity, and cruel, degrading, and disproportionately severe treatment.”
The group complains that “people seeking abortion care receive different and demonstrably worse treatment than other people seeking health care.” For example, no one else can be denied health care if they do not have two certifying consultants or because their reasons for seeking treatment are not included in the Crimes Act.
The group also argues that “no one else is forced to lie to their doctors about their mental health status if they want to receive health care”.
ALRANZ national president Terry Bellamak said “these laws also breach the fundamental rights of pregnant people in respect of other rights guaranteed in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. But the HRC can only consider discrimination cases. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.”
The complaint has reached the Office Human Rights Proceedings which will decide whether it will represent ALRANZ and the other complainants before the Human Rights Review Tribunal.