Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey supports a review of New Zealand's abortion laws while National MP Todd McClay said he would seek views from the Rotorua electorate before casting his vote.

New Zealand abortion laws are again under the spotlight with Justice Minister Andrew Little seeking a review of the country's laws on the matter from the New Zealand Law Commission. The review seeks to have abortion treated as a health matter rather than a criminal matter.

Currently, termination of pregnancy is a crime in New Zealand except in a few scenarios. It was also a crime in Ireland until a referendum in May when the people voted in favour of legalising abortion.

Little's review is supported by Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey who said abortion shouldn't be treated as a criminal activity in 2018.


"As a country, we need to look at modernising our laws to reflect current thinking and practice, ensuring they do right by New Zealand women and their whānau.

"The Law Commission is best placed to do that work and I look forward to hearing their expert advice on how our abortion laws should work.

"The recent historic referendum in Ireland showed that even ideas on abortion in strong conservative and Catholic countries have changed.

"I am keen to know if our community's ideas have changed too and would support any similar referendum put before our people."

National MP Todd McClay said Parliament treated abortion as a conscience issue and he would seek the views of the Rotorua electorate before casting a vote in Parliament on any proposed changes.

"We need to wait and see what any review by the Law Commission says and fully evaluate any recommendations they might make," McClay said.

"Ireland has recently voted in a referendum to allow abortion where previously it was not allowed. The Irish parliament must now decide how to enact the outcome of the referendum and what scope and limits should be written into law in Ireland."

Figures released by Statistics New Zealand show a small increase in induced abortions throughout the country in 2017 with Lakes DHB recorded an increase of two year-on-year.


Lakes DHB communications officer Sue Wilkie provided figures that showed 199 Lakes women had surgical terminations at a neighbouring DHB in the 2016/2017 year compared with 197 the year before.

She said some terminations had been carried out at other facilities but Lakes DHB did not collect that data.

Nationally, Statistics New Zealand reports 13,285 induced abortions were provided in 2017, compared with 12,823 in 2016.

This represents a slight increase (3.6 per cent) in the abortion rate per 1000 women aged between 15 and 44 from 13.5 in 2016 to 13.7 in 2017.

Earlier this year Lakes DHB began providing termination of pregnancy services at Rotorua Hospital. Prior to that Lakes DHB had used a termination of pregnancy service provided by Waikato DHB and Family Planning, available at either Waikato, Thames or Tokoroa Public Hospitals.

Fletcher Tabuteau, the deputy leader of New Zealand First, did not provide his views.