Submission: Abortion Legislation Bill

We have made our submission about the Abortion Legislation Bill to the committee (see attachment). We support the passage of the Bill with amendments:

The New Zealand Council of Civil Liberties believes that abortion is a health issue for a pregnant person not a crime and that the law should change to reflect this.

Our submission touched upon a number of topics including:

  • The ability for people to make their own decisions about healthcare.
  • Equitable access to healthcare services.
  • Support for medical providers to object on conscience grounds.
  • Access to accurate information about disabilities such as Down Syndrome.
  • The use of the term “pregnant person” rather than “woman” to remove uncertainty.

Safe areas and freedom of expression

One particular topic we considered was the ability to create “safe areas” banning certain types of protest activity around locations where abortion services are provided. This was of concern to us as we believe that political protest is an important form of freedom of expression in a democracy.

After noting that the forbidden activities in the designated area were mainly concerned with the harassment of people seeking or receiving medical care, on balance we support the ability to create “safe areas”. We note that there is no limit on protest activity outside the designated areas.