There will be no referendum on abortion law reforms.

The idea proposed by New Zealand First has been voted down by MPs, during the committee stage of the Abortion Legislation Bill.

There were just 19 votes in favour of a public referendum, and 100 against.

The bill passed its second reading in Parliament in a conscience vote early this month, with 81 votes in favour and 39 votes opposing, narrower than the 94 to 23 margin at the first reading last year.

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It would remove abortion from the Crimes Act and do away with the legal test for the procedure in pregnancies earlier than 20 weeks

The issue is polarising, shown by the small protest against the bill at Parliament earlier this month that featured graphic images, while 35 organisations have signed an open letter to MPs urging them to support it.

Introducing the second reading, Justice Minister Andrew Little said the current law was 40 years old and no longer fit for purpose.