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'I'd be loath to' - National's Simon Bridges says abortion should stay in the Crimes Act

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has clarified his stance on taking abortion out of the Crimes Act in New Zealand, saying he "would be loath to".

The National Party leader said he would be "loath" to take abortion out of the Crimes Act. Source: Breakfast

The conversation was sparked after Ireland last week voted in a referendum to allow their parliament to legislate on the legality of abortion - a subject which has been controversial in the largely-catholic country for decades, sparking six referendums.

In New Zealand, abortion is legal only if the pregnant woman faces a risk to her life, physical or mental health - meaning many women receive abortions under false pretences.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised to reform current abortion law in New Zealand within this parliamentary term, saying "people should be able to exercise their own rights and I as a parliamentarian shouldn't stand in the way of that".

She has also insisted there'll be no changes to the time-frame in which women can have an abortion - which is up to 19 weeks.

Mr Bridges, who is religious, this morning told TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme he would "be loath to" remove abortion from New Zealand's Crimes Act, saying the law as it stands today is working.

"I've always said 'rare, safe, legal' - with a bit of emphasis on the 'rare'," Mr Bridges said.

"I suppose the threshold is - what is it we're trying to achieve by the review and the changes?

"Pracitically speaking, we have several thousand abortions per year here ... I would argue actually, in reality, it is rare, safe and legal.

"My argument is ... what's wrong with the law as it's working today? Why would we go there and make the changes?

"Ultimately, the Law Commission's got some work going on, so let's see what they say.

"It will be a conscience issue for the National MPs."