New Zealand Pro-Life Advocates Take National Abortion Law to Court

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 6, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Zealand Pro-Life Advocates Take National Abortion Law to Court Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 6, 2005

Wellington, New Zealand ( — Pro-life advocates in New Zealand are taking a 1977 abortion law to the nation’s high court saying that it was intended to provide abortion guidelines but has, instead, been used to promote unlimited abortions for any reason.

Right To Life New Zealand filed suit against the Abortion Supervisory Committee saying the agency has misinterpreted the law.

The measure was approved "with the objectives of stopping abortion on demand and to provide effective legal protection for unborn children," the group said in a statement.

However, the pro-life group said that nation governments since 1978 have failed to correctly apply the act.

The group, which also sued the country’s attorney general, said 98 percent of abortions have been approved for mental health reasons, even though studies show abortion has a negative impact on a woman’s physical and emotional health.

"It is our belief that these abortions are for socioeconomic reasons masquerading as psychiatric," the statement said.

"Evidence will be given by Right To Life that the committee has failed to hold certifying consultants accountable for the lawfulness of their authorizations for abortion."

According to the committee, there were 18,511 abortions performed in New Zealand in 2003, the latest year for which there is data available.

In December, a New Zealand woman nearly died after using an abortion drug she bought off the Internet. The abortion is one of four reported over the last 18 months where women purchased the abortion pills online.

Medsafe, the Health Ministry’s drug monitoring agency, said the abortion drug mifepristone was being purchased online from Chinese sources.

Dr. Lesley Rothwell, who monitors abortion for the New Zealand government, says the woman was bleeding heavily and was rushed to a hospital after she began hemorrhaging.

"Her life was endangered — certainly it was potentially fatal," Rothwell told the Sunday Star Times. "She was admitted to hospital in an extremely distressed state. The hospital staff were also very distressed by it."

The abortion drug Mifepristone has been legal in New Zealand since 2001.

It has come under intense scrutiny in the last couple of years with three U.S. women dying following usage of the drug and one in Sweden.