Update: and now this has hit the blogosphere in force, there’s also a round-up of posts at The Hand Mirror, in addition to what I’ve garnered at the end of this post.
And it’s kind of, do-I-laugh-or-do-I-cry:
In a review of the workings of the Abortion Supervisory Committee, initiated by Right To Life New Zealand, Justice Forrest Miller said there was a reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions.
Here’s the deal in the liberal hippie communist paradise of the South Pacific, bastion of human rights and progressive thinking (see also Women’s Suffrage, Abyssinia, nukes, Georgina Beyer):
It is legal for you to have an abortion if two consultants agree that this pregnancy would seriously harm your mental or physical health or that your baby would have a serious disability. They may also consider your age and whether the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Different criteria apply if you are more than 20 weeks pregnant.
Now, there’s a whooooooooooole lot of problems up there, but I’m sure anyone with half a brain can figure out the results: one heck of a lot of women (normal, everyday women, some of whom may even have saved themselves for marriage/used contraception/not intended to have sex at all!) have gotten and are getting abortions in New Zealand thanks to the vagueness of “seriously harm your mental health” and the kindness of a number of doctors.
Which is probably why people always tell me, “ZOMG, QoT, abortion just isn’t an issue in NZ!”
Well, this could be up for reconsideration. Because Justice Forrest Miller (awesome name almost outweighing the instant cringe I feel when a man makes a big ol’ Statement about women’s reproductive rights) has ruled:
In his judgment Justice Miller found the Abortion Supervisory Committee had applied the abortion law more liberally than Parliament had intended.
“There is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants,” he said.
So Right to Zygote Life kinda had a point. And let me be the first to admit: of course they do. There are undoubtedly a lot of women who, according to the strictest definition of “seriously harm mental health”, probably shouldn’t be getting abortions. And this is a result of the law being worded vaguely. And millions of Tiny Miracles of God’s Infinite Love are being brutally slaughtered in eldritch ritual so my sistren and I can dance naked around Black Sabbath fires* singing the praises of Our Dark Lord Asmodeus. Oh wait, no, that’s just patently stupid.**
Where we (obviously) disagree is that I don’t exactly think this is a bad thing, inasmuch as the law is stupid and archaic and wrong, and thank God there’s a fairly painless way of circumventing it much of the time.
Now, whether this will lead to anything actually happening on the Final Frontier of Abortion is anyone’s guess. I’m not entirely legally savvy, but I’m guessing the decision is not exactly binding in the You, Government, Go Change Those Laws Right The Hell Now way. And if it does, *Valley Girl Mode* OH MY GOD, you guys, we are, like, SO TOTALLY going to have one hell of a time. *shifty eyes* I mean, we will organise Calm and Thoughtful Protests, designing to inspire Rational and Stimulating Philosophical Discussion. Not resurrecting the coathanger logos and 70s-style performance art protest. At. All.
But wait, there’s more! Just when you thought this post would be completely bitter-hilarity-free, who do we find but Man Of The Neanderthals People Bob McCoskrie putting in his two cents:
“As a result, approximately 18,000 abortions are performed every year, and since 1991, the number of 11 to 14-year-olds having an abortion has increased by 144 per cent.”
Because … I don’t know, I’m guessing “Family First” stands on some kind of “increasing family size is by definition good” platform, as opposed to a “hey, maybe the fact that eleven-year-old-girls are pregnant in the first fucking place might be cause for a bit of concern as opposed to freaking out about them having (naughty!) abortions, and let’s have some concern for a born, breathing, abused child instead of our patriarchal ownership insecurities” platform. And I bet this would never have happened if we hadn’t stopped people to having the right to claim “reasonable force” after beating their 7-year-olds with electric jug cords “banned smacking”.
I guess I can only tell Right to Life this: if they honestly think we currently have abortion on demand in NZ, actually want to push for a review and change of NZ’s abortion law? I’ll bloody show them what “abortion on demand” is.
ETA: And a pondering of what kind of debate this might all lead to over at The Hand Mirror.
ETA: And a really nice sum up of the Bill of Rights “issues” involved at Still Truckin’.
No Right Turn sums up the whole two-consultants’-approval issue rather nicely.
Craig Young at GayNZ has an awesome history of the abortion issue in NZ.
Julie from The Hand Mirror has a guest post on the issue at The Standard, which is awesome, but in a “come on, Standardites, you could actually voice an opinion on this actually-rather-important issue, it wouldn’t kill you.”