On Monday, the Government of New Zealand has released a long-awaited plan to examine its Abortion Law, so that a termination is considered as a health issue and individual preference rather than a crime.
Under the Proposed Law, a woman has the right to an abortion until 20 weeks of pregnancy and would need a medical evalutaion after that.
The Bill is to be introduced to the Parliament on August 8, will be a principal vote rather than along party lines.
Currently, New Zealand has issued an restrictive laws, listed abortion as a criminal offence but with a flaw that provides a woman access to abort if two doctors agree that a pregnancy would put her in mental and physical danger.
Government report highlights that there were around 13000 cases of abortion in 2018, and only 57 took place after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
While releasing details of the proposed changes, Justice Minister Andrew Little said that “abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand. It’s time for this to change.”
Justice Andrew continued, “This bill will modernise the laws on abortion, by removing it from the Crimes Act and bringing the law into line with many other developed countries.”
“Safe abortion should be treated and regulated as a health issue; a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body,” added Justice Andrew.
The Bill will also permit for “safe zones” 150-meters around abortion clinics to avert women being harassed by protestors.
He also expected that the proposed law to pass its first reading but unsure about how many lawmakers would vote for it.
Lawmakers with religious objections are expected to vote against or abstain.
The lobby outfit Abortion Rights Aotearoa has hailed the announcement as “a huge step forward” but also asked for the need for a 20-week limit.