Calls for 'complex' abortion laws to be overhauled: 'It's bizarre that abortion is still under the Crimes Act'

The chief executive of Family Planning thinks it's "bizarre" that abortion is still under the Crimes Act in New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern and Bill English clashed over the issue during Monday's televised leaders debate. Source: Breakfast

The issue of abortion was recently raised in Monday night's leaders debate, with the National and Labour leaders both having differing views on the matter. Bill English is in favour of keeping the law as it is, with Jacinda Ardern wanting to decriminalise abortion.

Jackie Edmond chief executive of Family Planning told TVNZ1's Breakfast that the current law around abortion has been in place since 1977 and it's time for a change.

"At the moment it's a complex process, it's time consuming and there can be delays for woman to make the legislative commitments," she said.

"The bizarre part is that it comes under the Crimes Act. I think most New Zealanders would be very surprised to hear that, it just makes no sense that it comes under the Crimes Act."

Ms Edmond thinks abortion should be handled by the Ministry of Health instead of the Ministry of Justice.

"In reality there are no prosecutions in New Zealand under the Crimes Act when it comes to abortion.

"The providers do a fantastic job within the current legal framework but the fundamental problem is women can't make the decision," she said.

Christian lobby group Family First says that any change to decriminalise abortion would lead to late term abortions or aborting on the basis of disability.

Ms Edmond believes that wouldn't be the case as there would still be robust systems in place and decriminalisation in other countries hasn't led to those outcomes.