Law Commission's alternative approaches to abortion released, if it is removed from the Crimes Act

The Law Commission's briefing paper on abortion has been released, looking at alternative approaches to New Zealand's current law. 

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The report sets out three alternative models for abortion to be removed from the Crime Act. Source: 1 NEWS

It sets out three alternative models if abortion is to be moved from the Crimes Act and is instead treated as a health issue. 

The full paper can be read here. 

Model A - the decision of abortion would be made by a woman in consultation with a health practitioner, and there would be no statutory test. 

Model B - a statutory test would be needed, however it would be part of health legislation rather than in the Crimes Act. It would need a health practitioner who was intending to perform the abortion to "reasonably believe the abortion is appropriate in the circumstances, having regard to the woman’s physical and mental health and wellbeing". 

Model C - would see pregnancies of less than 22 weeks to be the same as Model A, and for pregnancies more than 22 weeks it would be the same as Model B. 

The briefing paper also proposes changes to the law by repealing abortion in the Crimes Act and repealing the requirement for abortions to be authorised by two certifying consultants.

"The Commission proposes either repealing the criminal offences for abortion or amending them so that they only apply to unqualified people who perform abortions," the briefing paper states. 

It also suggests the repeal on restrictions of "where and by whom abortions can be performed", so other health care facilities such as Family Planning and medical centres would be able to perform or give abortion medication by a qualified health practitioner.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said in a statement New Zealand's abortion law was over 40 years old. 

"I acknowledge that the subject of abortion is a personal one for each MP. I will be taking time to talk to my colleagues across all parties about the Law Commission's briefing before progressing further," he said.

The public sent in almost 3500 submissions to the Law Commission on New Zealand's abortion law. 

The current rules for abortion under 20 weeks are in cases of serious danger to life, physical health or mental health, incest and foetal abnormality. Sexual violation is a factor that can be taken into account.

A person needs two certifying doctors to provide certificates to obtain an abortion, and unbiased counselling must be undertaken prior.