By Vatican News
New Zealand’s Bishops have voiced their concern about an Abortion Legislation Bill set to go through the country’s Parliament.
They say that if the Bill is passed the unborn will lose their already tenuous existing rights.
In a statement, the Bishops point out that “Parliament’s Abortion Legislation Select Committee – set up to hear public submissions on a bill to replace New Zealand’s existing abortion laws – has recommended enacting a new law based on the Law Commission’s ‘Model C’, one of three alternatives the commission suggested in a 2018 report to the Government.”
They fear that Model C as adopted by the select committee “removes the need for any statutory tests for an abortion up to 20 weeks’ gestation, effectively introducing abortion on demand.”
Under the existing legislation a woman can have an abortion up to 20 weeks under certain criteria, such as a danger to the physical and mental health of the woman. She has to be assessed by a health practitioner and then referred to two certifying consultants before a decision is made.
But Cynthia Piper, a lecturer at the Te Kupenga - Catholic Leadership Institute explains that under the proposed law “a woman can self-refer to her GP up until twenty weeks; there is no statutory test.” She goes on to say that, “after 20 weeks the wording of proposed law is so vague, it really leaves it open for a woman to have an abortion virtually up until birth.”
The Bishops highlight that unborn babies with a fetal disability will have even less protection than under the current law.
They are concerned that the proposed bill as reported from the committee “also removes all references to fetal abnormalities, unlike the existing law which cites them as a reason for abortion up to 20 weeks, but not after.”
Ms Piper points out that if the law was passed as it stands, it would mean that if there was a fetal abnormality, a woman could have an abortion up until birth. “There is no protection for the unborn child in other words”, she says.