Charlotte Bellis' lawyer disputes claims by the Government it has a pathway for pregnant people to access emergency spots in MIQ with data showing many of the successful applications involved either intense advocacy, legal action and/or media coverage.
Bellis was this week granted an emergency spot to arrive in New Zealand in March to give birth to her first daughter, with her Belgian partner to follow.
Their applications were initially rejected, however, despite being in Afghanistan and having poor access to maternity care.
After several days of global media coverage the application was approved, albeit under a new category.
Tudor Clee, who has represented Bellis and many others like her pro bono, says while her case's high profile was exceptional the advocacy and legal work involved were far from it.
Since June 2021, 30 of 219 emergency allocation applications which involved a pregnancy were successful (the Herald has asked for the full data back to November 2020).
Of those unsuccessful, 65 were declined and six were still in process.
There were 118 cancelled by the applicants or they were not processed due to being incomplete applications.
This low success rate compared to about two thirds, 5396, of the total 8863 completed emergency allocation applications since October 2020 being approved.
Clee, currently with his wife and baby daughter in El Salvador, got involved with such MIQ applications after university friend Roshni Sami contacted him as she sought to have her husband, stuck overseas, join her in New Zealand for the birth.
Together they launched the Baby Bridge initiative to help advocate for similar cases, and since October 22, slightly more than three months, they have successfully helped with 12 applications.
MBIE was unable to provide data since October by deadline, but even taking the data provided from June, Clee and Sami would have been involved in 12 of the 29 successful applications - or just over 40 per cent.
"So potentially we could be responsible for a proportion much higher than that," Clee said.
Those represented all involved "tragic and horrific circumstances", and at least three women who had husbands or partners refused spaces ended up having traumatic births without support from friends or family, he said.
Of those successful, four involved a judicial review, seven a high level of advocacy and lobbying (including discussions with Crown Law), and just one through paperwork.
This was despite Head of MIQ Chris Bunny saying changes were made in November including "consideration of the unborn child when assessing and making decisions where pregnancy is part of the emergency application".
Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins also this week in defending the Government's actions said the criteria "include specifically for an expectant mother or bringing their partner home to support them".
But Clee says the data and their legal and media interventions show this not to be the case.
Even Bellis' application was granted under a criteria recognising a threat to her and her partner's safety, not that she could be giving birth somewhere without access to appropriate healthcare nor the impact it could have on the baby.
"It shows a purely misogynistic and narrowminded application process," Clee said.
Speaking for the first time publicly about Bellis' situation today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said among the 200,000 people who had gone through MIQ there were some people with "really terrible, difficult stories".
Ardern would be announcing changes to MIQ tomorrow and confirming dates, among broader plans to reconnect New Zealand to the world.
Initially a phasing out of MIQ towards home isolation was to begin in mid-January, starting with Kiwis in Australia, but this was pushed back to the end of February due to the arrival of Omicron.
"Within sight is a change of the system entirely that will remove the bottleneck, with a strategy that will keep people safe," Ardern said.