Abortion Supervisory Committee: No opinion on decriminalisation but law needs redrafting


On Thursday the Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) made its annual report to Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Committee.

Dame Linda Holloway, ASC chairwoman, says the ASC held no opinion on the decriminalisation of abortion.

“We believe that major reform of the Act is something for society and for Parliament.”

But the committee requested a redraft of the current legislation because its wording was causing “enormous administrative problems” for the ASC and health practitioners.”

The report says the outdated wording in the legislation was creating problems for health officials and allowing anti-abortion groups to launch legal challenges.

The law was not written in inclusive language, Holloway said.

“In fact, some parts of the language is actually quite offensive, referring to people as subnormal, for example.”

“Really it is an indictment that we have statute like that on the books that is not being corrected.”

Dame Linda was asked by media after the committee meeting if the polarising nature of the issue and wider political debate could mean the committee’s request for a redraft would come to nothing.

“I’m uncertain. But having been the select committee today, our next task is to meet with officials in the ministry [of health] to get some advice on the practicalities of trying to embark on something like this.”

In its 2016 report the ASC said it is often asked to clarify the act’s “unnecessarily complicated wording, particularly around referrals and consultation processes”.


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News category: New Zealand.

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