Cross-posted from Brendan Malone at The Leading Edge Blog.
Several days ago I was contacted by someone with connections to the Labour Party who alerted me to the fact that the three MPs currently vying to become the next leader of the Labour Party had been questioned about whether they support a law change to introduce an extreme decriminalised abortion law in New Zealand.
Well, Young Labour has finally published the responses of the three MPs, and here they are (emphasis added):
“Abortion, for me will always be a matter for an MP’s conscience”
“All women should have the right to control and determine their own reproductive health. That is an absolute non negotiable. In my mind, our current abortion laws fall outside this principle and need to be reformed.”
“I want to see a woman’s right to choose protected. The current law hasn’t been reviewed for many years and I think that is now urgent. The Law Commission would be best placed to undertake this review as it is a conscience issue which splits across parties.”
So there you have it.
Shane Jones considers it a conscience issue, but he doesn’t state which way his conscience falls on the issue. The fact that he made such a statement to a largely pro-choice crowd suggests that he is probably not in favor of introducing a more extreme abortion law in NZ, however, until he actually publicly states as much, this should be considered nothing more than an educated guess.
Grant Robertson boldly proclaims his support for not only a radical view of abortion (referring to it as a ‘right’), but also for the introduction of a more extreme abortion law in New Zealand.
David Cunliffe makes the most interesting comments of all though, and not just because most people seriously consider him the frontrunner to be the next leader of the Labour Party.
It’s almost certain that Cunliffe is trying to paint himself as a moderate on this issue in the way that he has phrased his reply here. However, the fact that he refers to the Law Commission is extremely troubling, and actually suggests that he is more invested in decriminalized abortion than he is letting on (hardly surprising considering that he is a protégé of Helen Clark).
You see, the Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ (ALRANZ) wants to see the same extreme decriminalized abortion law that was introduced in Victoria, Australia several years ago introduced here as well.
The Victorian law allows abortion up to birth, outlaws conscientious objection for healthcare workers, and even allows things such as gender-selective abortions.
When this extreme abortion law was introduced in Victoria, the first part of the strategy employed there was a law commission review of the previous abortion law – it was this review that opened the door to the extreme abortion legislation that was eventually passed into law in Victoria.
In fact, on page 263 of her recently published book Fighting to Choose, The Abortion Rights Struggle in New Zealand, senior ALRANZ member and spokesperson Alison McCulloch even states the following:
“[Former Labour MP Steve] Chadwick said she believed that it would only be when the Law Commission was charged with examining the law and producing recommendations that any government would touch the issue.”
For those who aren’t aware, Steve Chadwick was the architect of a failed private member’s bill to introduce an extreme decriminalized abortion law back in 2010.
The fact that Cunliffe is now suggesting the VERY same course of action as the architect of the last attempt to introduce extreme abortion laws into New Zealand is either one of the greatest coincidences, or it indicates that he is in fact not a moderate on this issue, but instead supports the introduction of decriminalized abortion here in NZ as well.