Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has spoken out against the use of graphic images by people against abortion law reform.

A demonstration against the Abortion Legislation Bill will be held at Parliament tonight at the same time as the bill's second reading, and is promising to use graphic visual images.

"Out of respect for post-abortive woman, the pro-life movement has generally resisted using graphic visual photos of aborted babies in public places," organiser Gina Sunderland said.

''But that's all about to change.''


But Ardern, who supports the bill, said she was personally against the use of such images.

"I just think that's not a way to share the legitimate views that other people will have," Ardern said this afternoon.

"People will have their own views and they should be able to freely express them. But people should also be mindful that those who have gone through some of these experiences, that will weigh heavy for many."

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Justice Minister Andrew Little also objected to the use of such images.

"New Zealanders on average have a low level of tolerance for that sort of extremism. If these people want to go around upsetting the rest of New Zealand, that's their call."

Meanwhile, 35 organisations - including Family Planning, the National Council of Women NZ, the NZ New Zealand College of Midwives, the NZ Nurses Organisation and the Mental Health Foundation of NZ - have signed an open letter supporting the bill and sent to all MPs.

A protest is expected to be held in Parliament today as the Abortion Legislation Bill has its second reading. Photo / Supplied
A protest is expected to be held in Parliament today as the Abortion Legislation Bill has its second reading. Photo / Supplied

The bill, which passed its first reading 94 votes to 23 last year, would remove abortion from the Crimes Act and drop the current test for two doctors to approve an abortion only if there was "serious danger" to the woman's physical or mental health.


It would also drop the current test for an abortion after 20 weeks, which can be approved if deemed necessary to save the woman's life or prevent serious injury.

The bill would mean there would be no legal test for earlier than 20 weeks, leaving the decision up to the woman and her doctor.

For later than 20 weeks, a medical practioner would have to agree that an abortion is appropriate, having regard to the woman's physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Following a select committee recommendation, the medical practitioner would need to consult at least one other qualified health practitioner when considering whether the abortion was clinically appropriate.

The bill would also introduce 150-metre safe zones around clinics to keep people from being harassed.

Little said he was "reasonably confident" that the bill would pass its second reading, and amendments would be voted on during the committee stage of the bill next week.


"Then we'll see where we get to."

One of those amendments, in the name of NZ First MP Darroch Ball, is for a public referendum on the issue.

Though tonight is a conscience vote where MPs are free to vote as they please, NZ First MPs are expected to support the bill at the second reading.

Their ongoing support after MPs vote on the referendum amendment is unclear.

Other proposed amendments, in Green MP Jan Logie's name, would scrap the 20-week legal test altogether or replace "woman" in the bill with "pregnant woman or other pregnant person".

Ardern said she would vote for the bill at every stage.


"It's time to take abortion out of the Crimes Act. It should be dealt as a health issue."