New Zealand lawmakers vote to legalise abortion

Parliamentarians in New Zealand passed a historic ruling on Wednesday (March 18) decriminalising abortions – treating the practise as a matter of health rather than a criminal one.

Effectively cutting the procedure from the Crimes Act and liberalising access to abortion services simultaneously, the final vote on the bill passed 68 to 51.

The landmark legislation now heads to Governor-General Patsy Reddy for the royal assent before becoming law.

Under the new abortion law reform, people will now be able to access the service from a health practitioner in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Persons will still be able to access abortions after 20 weeks, provided that the health practitioner proves the procedure is “clinically appropriate”, with regards to the patient’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

That practitioner must then consult a second practitioner before proceeding.

Abortion currently sits in the Crimes Act; New Zealanders, however, still follow through with the practise by exploiting a loophole.

The bill, tabled by Justice Minister Andrew Little, said it “confirms the right of a woman to continue with her pregnancy or not”.