NZ abortion law: more hoops than you could throw a Tux Wonder Dog at

A common refrain whenever the abortion issue gets raised in NZ is “but it’s legal here, and no one seems to be having problems getting it, so what’s the fuss?”

Well, (a)  no it’s not, (b) on that basis, I’ve never known a guy with erectile dysfunction so let’s stop selling Viagra, shall we? and (c) the fuss is, to quote ALRANZ:

“A woman might see up to five doctors before a decision on whether to approve her abortion is taken”. More doctors to actually have the abortion, of course!

And they have a chart helpfully released under the Official Information Act to show why.

Five doctors.  Who are probably pretty busy, who may not even be in the same town or province as you if you’re especially lucky, who all need to be convinced that you fall under the requirements of the law, with whom you have no previous relationship but nevertheless will have to discuss a very personal, possibly traumatic situation with … while time ticks away and your options become increasingly limited to riskier, surgical procedures.  (Still a hell of a lot less risky than carrying a pregnancy to term – hey, I’m just trying to provide full information, here.)

I’d like you all to consider what other procedure you could possibly have to find five doctors to sign off on.  Get a second opinion of your own free will, maybe – consult with a few specialists to get more detailed information, sure – but to be forced to see up to five doctors in order to exercise a basic choice about your own body?

Yeah, nah.  Didn’t think so.

(For the lovely antichoice fuckheads out there:  no, actually, this obstacle course presented to pregnant people has not a fucking thing to do with the magical sanctity of pweshus babby feeeetusses, because if it did, abortion wouldn’t be legal under any circumstances.  It’s simply there to make the process more difficult for pregnant people – predominantly cis women – who were not trusted by our Parliament to make their own fucking choices.  Not my fault your side has a massive lack of internal consistency.  And empathy.  And tragic tendency to be really, seriously obvious about your misogyny.  But I digress.)


  1. Tamara

    I was just at a social gathering (happened to be a baby shower) and I raised these issues. One of the women was a GP who had clearly never thought of these issues and I think I made a bit of headway! She said she thought it was a lost cause and we’re lucky we can do it at all here. Another woman had come back to NZ from the UK and had no idea the hoops we have to jump through here. It’s quite nerve wracking to get into these discussions so thanks for all your posts on this issue which give me the arguments to work with.

    • QoT

      Happy to help! I wish we could have a big flash-bang social change on this, but in the meantime, just getting people to be aware of the issues is a huge step.

  2. Moz

    Since you asked, for a young man to get a vasectomy is quite a tedious process. 20 years ago it was, as far as I could discover, impossible in NZ (admittedly I only tried about 5 vas-providing doctors). But then, it was not urgent in the same way that an abortion is, and I was not as inclined to push the issue as I would be if I wanted to stop being pregnant. The underlying problem is similar – a limited number of providers, most or all of whom consider it their duty to force young people to “really seriously consider what you’re doing”. I did seriously consider GBH with one of them, if that counts?.

    FWIW I will continue submitting both here and in NZ when parliament considers the abortion issue. It’s also weirdly kind-of-legal in much of Oz.

    • QoT

      I actually didn’t mention vasectomy in this post … but charitably, if you’re referring to the way people often say “but why does no one ever advocate forcing men on benefits to have vasectomies” whenever beneficiary-reproduction-policing comes up, I’d still argue it has a hell of a lot more to do with sexism, to wit the assumption that cis women will be the child-rearers in a hetero relationship.

      Abortion is urgent – but subject to a hell of a lot of pointless delay nevertheless.

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