During the CEDAW Committee’s review of New Zealand this afternoon, the country’s delegate stated that the New Zealand government has no interest in expanding its abortion laws. This was in response to being told twice that the country needs to modernize its abortion laws.
New Zealand currently allows for abortion in the case of endangerment to the mother’s life or when there is danger to her mental or physical health. In order to have an abortion, the abortion must be approved by two doctors, called certifying consultants, and the abortion must be carried out in licensed institutions.
After praising New Zealand’s progressiveness for legalizing civil partnerships for LGBTs and being the first western country to grant women the right to vote, Ms. Patricia Schultz (CEDAW Committee expert from Switzerland) called on New Zealand to start on an “urgently needed” review of abortion legislation to come up to speed with the country’s “standard of human rights.”
Even though abortion is allowed in certain situations and even though New Zealand’s abortion laws are a lot more liberal than many other countries, Ms. Schultz stated that “abortion is basically illegal” in New Zealand.
As the New Zealand delegate went on to explain, in order for a law to be changed, a government member needs to submit a bill to the legislature. There is no such abortion bill at the time because as the delegate put it, “there is no appetite by government members or other parties to discuss or modernize the legislation.” Any abortion vote would be a personal vote, and the members of parliament are just not interested in addressing abortion.
Cross posted from Turtle Bay and Beyond.