Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's Political Editor

Barry Soper: Abortion laws overdue for review

Add a comment
Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett and Prime Minister Bill English. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett and Prime Minister Bill English. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It's a committee set up by the Government to administer an Act which it says is a geriatric ass.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee says our abortion laws were written 40 years ago and they're long overdue for review.

The very sound of the word abortion though sends our ultra conservative Prime Minister Bill English into apoplectic shock. The committee's not calling for an overhaul of the law, its simply saying the Contraception. Sterilization and Abortion Act 1977 as it stands doesn't work properly.

Some of the language in it is offensive, the committee argues, referring to women with limited mental capacity as subnormal. Most abortions are performed on mental health grounds and most women who have them are far from subnormal.

The law's not working because for example it refers to "operating doctors" where many abortions these days are medically induced, meaning there's no operating doctor.

It's things like that, in what is a deeply emotive area, that leads to never ending litigation. Lawyers are constantly fighting cases because of the inadequate law and where does the cost for all that fall - on the long suffering taxpayer of course?

The National leadership's in an echo chamber on this one with English's sidekick Paula Bennett parroting her boss' line that modernisation of the abortion law's not on the agenda. And the woman who should know better, lawyer and Justice Minister Amy Adams is bouncing off the echo, lamely declaring the Beehive has a full plate of legislative change about to be dished up.

The Government has a duty to govern on this one.

It has to remove the emotion from this debate, and of course emotions run high on both sides, and look at the law itself and decide whether it's working and if those as the pit face say it's not, then if should be changed.

A law draftsman could in short order bring at least the wording up to date without the current Beehive's fear that it's going to be liberalised.

And even though it'd be a conscience vote, surely on this one it should be on their conscience to let an inadequate law remain on the statute books.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's Political Editor

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 26 May 2017 13:22:22 Processing Time: 401ms