The Soap Box: Bad law on abortion should be changed

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Monday, 20 March 2017, 5:32AM
The very sound of the word abortion though sends our ultra conservative Prime Minister Bill English into apoplectic shock (Photo / File / NZH)
The very sound of the word abortion though sends our ultra conservative Prime Minister Bill English into apoplectic shock (Photo / File / NZH)

It's a committee set up by the Government to administer an Act which it says is a geriatric ass.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee says our abortion laws were written 40 years ago and they're long overdue for review.  

The very sound of the word abortion though sends our ultra conservative Prime Minister Bill English into apoplectic shock. The committee's not calling for an overhaul of the law, its simply saying the Contraception. Sterilization and Abortion Act 1977 as it stands doesn't work properly.

Some of the language in it is offensive, the committee argues, referring to women with limited mental capacity as subnormal. Most abortions are performed on mental health grounds and most women who have them are far from subnormal.    

The law's not working because for example it refers to "operating doctors" where many abortions these days are medically induced, meaning there's no operating doctor.

It's things like that, in what is a deeply emotive area, that leads to never ending litigation. Lawyers are constantly fighting cases because of the inadequate law and where does the cost for all that fall - on the long suffering taxpayer of course?

The National leadership's in an echo chamber on this one with English's sidekick Paul Bennett parroting her boss' line that modernisation of the abortion law's not on the agenda.   And the woman who should know better, lawyer and Justice Minister Amy Adams is bouncing off the echo, lamely declaring the Beehive has a full plate of legislative change about to be dished up.

The Government has a duty to govern on this one. It has to remove the emotion from this debate, and of course emotions run high on both sides, and look at the law itself and decide whether it's working and if those as the pit face say it's not, then if should be changed.

A law draftsman could in short order bring at least the wording up to date without the current Beehive's fear that it's going to be liberalised.

And even though it'd be a conscience vote, surely on this one it should be on their conscience to let an inadequate law remain on the statute books.

ON AIR: Larry Williams Drive

4PM - 7PM