New Zealand leaders proposed a radical new pro-abortion bill Monday that would allow unborn babies to be aborted for basically any reason up to birth.
The bill would treat the killing of unborn babies as a “health issue,” according to government leaders, Reuters reports.
Though abortions technically are still listed in the country’s criminal code, they currently are allowed with the permission of two doctors after a counseling session, according to the BBC.
The new proposal would expand abortions even further by allowing them for any reason up to 20 weeks of pregnancy and removing the counseling and the two-doctor requirements, 1 News Now reports. After 20 weeks, it would allow unborn babies to be aborted if one doctor believes the baby would negatively affect the woman’s physical or mental health. It also would remove abortion from the criminal code.
Essentially, the government is “liberalizing abortion right up to birth,” National MP Chris Penk told the news outlet.
However, Justice Minister Andrew Little argued that abortion should be treated like any other health procedure.
“Abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand. It’s time for this to change,” Little said in a statement. “Safe abortion should be treated and regulated as a health issue; a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body.”
Pro-life advocates say government leaders are not being clear about just how radical their bill is.
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“If this is abortion up to birth that’s being proposed by Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Government then why does the bill not state that?” said Kate Cormack with the pro-life organization Voice for Life. “Why does the bill not prevent abortion up to birth? Why doesn’t it stop abortion at 30 weeks? There’s nothing like that being proposed in this.”
The pro-life organization pointed to a 2016 Curia Market Research poll that found 56 percent of women want limits on abortion prior to 20 weeks.
Cormack said women both want and deserve better from New Zealand leaders.
“This is simply wish fulfillment for a tiny minority of very vocal abortion ideologues, and it will waste valuable Parliamentary time and resources that should be spent on more pressing issues,” Cormack said.
In July, the pro-life organization presented a petition with more than 13,000 signatures to the government in opposition to pro-abortion legislation. Cormack said they will continue to work hard to stop the bill from becoming law.
Along with the abortion expansion, the bill also would allow buffer zones around abortion facilities to prevent pro-life sidewalk counselors from reaching out to women before they go inside.
The pro-abortion group ALRANZ argued that the bill does not go far enough; any limits on abortion are too many.
“It’s not as good as it could have been, but it’s so much better than the status quo. We have to give the government props for that,”ALRANZ national president Terry Bellamak said.
A first reading of the bill is expected Thursday in parliament, according to the reports.
In 2017, there were 13,285 abortions in New Zealand, or 36 unborn babies killed each day.