New Zealand Court of Appeal Wrong, Unborn Have a Right to Life

Opinion   |   Ken Orr   |   Jun 5, 2011   |   5:11PM   |   Washington, DC

Unborn children do not have a right to life according to a decision of the Court of Appeal. The Judges were Justice Chambers, Stevens and Arnold. Our counsel presented to the Court  a detailed submission in support of the recognition of the humanity and right to life of unborn children. The Court in its judgment did not address the substance of this submission holding this  to be not  necessary. This decision in this respect has upheld the decision of Justice Miller made in the High Court in 2008. The judgment upholds section 159 of the Crimes Act 1961, which decrees that an unborn child does not become a human being until it is born.

Unborn children are the weakest and most defenceless members of the human family. Human life begins at conception and at the moment of conception the new human being is endowed by its Creator with human rights, the foundation right being a right to life. These rights are inalienable and universal. From conception the human being is entitled to the respect and protection accorded to the person. These rights are inalienable and universal. Our human rights are not conferred on us by the State or by the Courts but it is the courts that should recognise those rights.

The Courts are the sanctuary of the oppressed and the defenders of human rights. It is the duty and privilege of the State and the Courts to uphold our human rights. Organisations in the pro-life movement are entitled to see it as their duty to seek the protection of the Courts for the human rights of unborn children. Right to Life is disappointed that the Court of Appeal has failed to uphold the human rights of unborn children.

Right to Life is disappointed at the judgment of the Court of Appeal which has overturned several important findings in the judgment of Justice Miller given in the High Court in 2008, which would have provided significantly increased protection for the unborn child. The Court has quashed the findings that there were serious concern about the lawfulness of many abortions in New Zealand, The Court quashed the High Court finding that the  Abortion Supervisory Committee had a statutory duty to review the way certifying consultants are carrying out their very significant authorising function under the Act.

Right to Life is encouraged by the dissenting opinion of Justice Arnold who stated, “ it is implausible that Parliament would have intended to preclude the Committee from keeping under review the way in which they performed their role.”

Right to Life contends that the judgment of the Court has effectively placed certifying consultants above the law.

Right to Life is disappointed that the Court has overturned the costs granted to our Society in the High Court. The Court of Appeal has granted costs to the Abortion Supervisory Committee for the hearings in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, these costs could be substantial. If the Committee should pursue these costs it will be a disincentive for any voluntary society in the future to bring matters concerning important human rights issues of public concern to the Courts.

Right to Life is totally committed to continuing to seek legal recognition for the status of unborn children as human beings endowed by their Creator at conception with human rights, the foundation right being an inalienable right to life. We are also committed to seeking the full protection of the law for protection of the lives of unborn children and the welfare and health of women who are the second victims of abortion. Right to Life will take advice from our counsel on the advisability of seeking leave to appeal the judgment in the Supreme Court.

Right to Life applauds the media release made by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference expressing concern at the decision of the Court to refuse to recognise the right to life of unborn children. Right to Life encourages other church leaders to speak up in defence of the lives of our precious unborn. Note: Ken Orr is the spokesman for Right to Life of New Zealand.