New Zealand legally-focussed pro-life organisation Right to Life is seeking a Declaratory Judgement on the lawfulness of an abortion licence, first issued in 2013, by the Abortion Supervisory Committee to the New Zealand Family Planning Association (FPA – who also like to brand themselves as Family Planning).
The licence was issued for its Tauranga clinic. The Registrar of the High Court in Wellington has advised that the hearing will take place in Wellington on 2 June 2015.
The Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act was enacted in 1977 and provided only for surgical abortions. At that time there were no medical abortions (for more information about the many issues associated with medical abortions see this post and this post). The Act specifies that a licence may be issued for surgical abortions if, “there are in the institution, adequate surgical and other facilities and adequate and competent staff for the performance of safe abortions.”
The FPA performs only medical abortions at its Tauranga clinic. The Act does not provide for the issuing of licences for institutions where only medical abortions are performed. Right to Life contends that Family Planning’s Tauranga clinic licence is unlawful.
This challenge is of wider importance beyond the Tauranga clinic, as in 2011 the FPA announced that it was its intention to seek an abortion licence for each of its 30 clinics in New Zealand.
This would effectively more than double the number of institutions licensed to undertake abortions in New Zealand (the latest publicly available data released from the Abortion Supervisory Committee listed that there were 26 institutions licensed to undertake abortions in New Zealand). Right to Life has stated that they believe that the FPA has delayed seeking further abortion licences until the High Court has made its Declaratory Judgement.