New Zealand To Introduce 150m 'Safe Zones' Around Abortion Clinics
Today, the New Zealand government announced proposed changes to abortion law in the country, with legislation calling for 150-meter safe-areas to be set up around abortion facilities.
In a statement, Justice Minister Andrew Little said the safe zones would be created on a localised basis and stop people protesting and handing literature to people seeking abortions in these zones, according to Stuff.
"Approaching a woman going to an abortion clinic and throwing leaflets and pamphlets in her face or chanting various dreadful epithets at them for going through with that health decision is pretty dreadful," Little said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden defended the proposed abortion law, saying at a press conference: "I'm happy that we are taking this issue, for the first time, further than its been taken since the late 1970s, " adding: "This now is an opportunity for individual members of parliament to exercise their conscious on this issue."
Currently, the law in New Zealand only allows for abortions to be given to save the life of the mother, or preserve her mental or physical wellbeing. It must also be approved by no less that two doctors or consultants.
The new bill proposes that a statutory medical test need only to be required for women 20-weeks pregnant or more, and this is where practitioners should decide whether the abortion is "appropriate with regard to the pregnant woman's physical and mental health, and well-being."
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If practitioners object to the abortion on grounds of conscience, they should inform the woman that she can obtain the service elsewhere. The bill also promises to ensure that women can self-refer to an abortion provider.
It will also remove abortion from the Crimes Act and see it treated as a health issue instead. However, the criminal offence will remain for unqualified people who attempt to procure an abortion or those who cause harm to a pregnant women and in doing so kills an unborn child.
Arden called the new bill an "opportunity to finally see abortion taken out of the Crimes Act."
"Abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand. It's time for this to change," Minister Little said, adding he hoped the bill will "modernise" the country's stance on abortion "bringing the law into line with many other developed countries."
Let's hope we see this bill come to light.
Featured Image Credit: PA