It seems that the Greens have had to do a spot of damage control since Friday’s announcement that the introduction of a new extreme abortion law in New Zealand is going to be one of their key priorities for the upcoming general election.
Late yesterday, Green List MP Jan Logie posted the following status on her Facebook wall:
“Some people have raised concerns that our policy might allow abortions post 20 weeks based on disability. This is not the intent of the policy. The Greens have a commitment to human rights and the acknowledgement of international obligations runs under all of our policies. The UN Committee with responsibility for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has already ruled that any distinction in abortion law on the grounds of fetal abnormality breaches the CRPD so our policy will not do that. The intent is to re to allow abortion after 20 weeks for a baby who has conditions so severe that they are extremely unlikely to survive post birth.
Provisions later in the policy make it clear that we wish to extend protections against disability based discrimination.”
Unfortunately for the Greens, this sort of public statement just 48 hours after a policy announcement clearly makes said policy look rushed and badly crafted, and it ultimately raises more questions than it answers.
1. What else in this new policy has not been clearly thought out, and will require amending in the coming days, weeks and months?
2. What else in this new policy is confusing or misleading, and doesn’t actually mean what it appears to mean?
3. If the Greens truly do maintain a commitment to outlawing abortion for disability after 20 weeks gestation, then why does their new policy NOT explicitly state this?
4. Do the Greens realise that by removing abortion from the Crimes Act, which their policy explicitly states they want to do, this will also strike down the current law which makes it illegal to abort after 20 weeks gestation on the grounds of disability?
5 & 6. How do the Greens actually intend to make it illegal to abort based on the grounds of disability after 20 weeks gestation once that provision is removed from the Crimes Act? If they have a plan to cover this, then why does their policy not clearly state what that is – and what else is also currently hidden from the general public about their new abortion policy?
7. If, as Green MP Jan Logie has now publicly stated; “The UN Committee with responsibility for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has already ruled that any distinction in abortion law on the grounds of fetal abnormality breaches the CRPD so our policy will not do that”, then why does their policy state that it will be legal to abort based on “severe fetal abnormality” without actually defining what they mean by ‘severe fetal abnormality’?
Surely she can see that, without clear definition, the term ‘severe feral abnormality’ is a highly subjective and arbitrary definition in real world practice.
8. In her latest public statement, why does Jan Logie say that: “Provisions later in the policy make it clear that we wish to extend protections against disability based discrimination”, when the only mention of disability later in the policy says this:
“[The Greens will] Address concerns about pressure for and overuse of antenatal screening, which should be an individual choice, and ensure that parents are fully informed about available and potential supports for families and people living with disabilities. [See our Disability policy].”
Notice that this statement doesn’t actually make any concrete commitment as to how persons with disabilities will be adequately legally protected under this new policy.
9. Do the Greens know that they don’t actually appear to have the backing of the President of the NZ General Practitioners Council for this proposed law change (yesterday she publicly stated that “the current law seems to be working effectively“)?
10. When the Greens say that they will: “allow terminations after 20 weeks gestation only when the woman would otherwise face serious permanent injury to her health”, do they mean that it will not be legal to abort after 20 weeks on the grounds of risk to mental health?
And if the answer to that question is ‘no, mental health will be considered sufficient grounds for abortion after 20 weeks by the Greens’, then doesn’t this mean that the Greens new extreme abortion policy actually legalises abortion on demand right up to birth as long as it is carried out under the loose definition of mental health grounds?’