New Zealand High Court Ruling on Abortion Committee Called Pro-Life Victory

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 4, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Zealand High Court Ruling on Abortion Committee Called Pro-Life Victory

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 4
, 2009

Wellington, New Zealand ( — A High Court ruling has reminded the federal agency responsible for overseeing abortions that it need to abide by national law. The court had been considering a case from Right to Life saying the Abortion Supervisory Committee had wrongfully been allowing abortions that should be prohibited.

New Zealand Right to Life sued saying ASC is allowing abortions on alleged mental health grounds that are not necessary for women’s health.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee is contesting a June 2008 ruling from High Court Judge Forrest Miller saying that there was “reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorized by certifying consultants."

The committee appealed the ruling and filed papers with the appeals court saying there is no evidence to justify Judge Miller’s conclusion.

Yesterday, Judge Miller released his ruling and clarified the functions of the ASC and he said that it could be expected to follow the law as Parliament intended without him ordering it to do so.

He also reminded the committee that they are obligated to follow the law.

Right to Life spokesman Ken Orr said the pro-life group was confident the committee would now comply with its statutory duty to only authorize abortions according to law.

"This will hopefully herald in a new era in the care and protection of women and for the right to life of unborn children in New Zealand," he said.

"The Committee is accountable to Parliament and it is expected that the appropriate Parliamentary Select Committee will ensure that the ASC holds certifying consultants accountable for the abortions that they authorize," he told

This judgment follows a hearing in the High Court on July 20 when Justice Miller heard submissions from the Crown and Right to Life counsel on the question of declaratory orders.

The latest judgment acknowledges that the abortion legislation does assert a state interest in protecting the unborn child.

“Further non-compliance has been material. I found that the Committee has failed over many years to exercise some of its statutory powers at all…. it is not possible to say how many unlawful abortions have been performed," Judge Miller said.

Andy Moore, the director of Pro-Life New Zealand, told that the decision is a victory for the pro-life movement.

In his most recent judgement, Justice Miller further reinforces the "shameful fact" that he outlined in his July 2008 judgement; that the ASC has been permitting a large number of unlawful abortions to be committed over a period of "many years," Moore said.

“This is great news for both unborn children and women throughout New Zealand as it means that the abortion law is set to be applied more closely to the original intent when it was passed," he told

“Not only does abortion take away the future of an unborn child, but it is also proven to be harmful to women, both psychologically and physically. Any move to address New Zealand’s unacceptably high abortion rate is a positive step forward,” said Moore.

Moore’s group called on Parliament to ensure that ASC meets the obligations of the law.

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