Pro-choice protesters face off with pro-life rally in Auckland

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Saturday, 25 May 2019, 1:24PM
Protest organisers Kayla Bunce, left, and Tegan Tinsley, right, at the rally in Aotea Suqare. Photo / Alice Peacock
Protest organisers Kayla Bunce, left, and Tegan Tinsley, right, at the rally in Aotea Suqare. Photo / Alice Peacock

Crowds of pro-choice protesters are gathered in Auckland's Aotea Square protesting New Zealand's "antiquated" abortion laws, whilst standing in solidarity with the female population in Alabama.

Aucklanders Tegan Tinsley and Kayla Bunce organised the Girls Just Want To Have Fundamental Human Rights Rally - which kicked off at midday at Auckland's Aotea Square.

But it's a battle of opinions at the square.

Behind the pro-choice rally, dozens of pro-life protesters were gathered with signs and balloons.

March for Life Auckland and Voice for Life Auckland - two vocal anti abortion groups - planned their counter protest in reaction to the original rally.

Deborah Russell, Labour MP for New Lynn, kicked off speeches at the rally, saying there had been "constructive discussions" in parliament in recent weeks.

"Something is happening" Russell said.

Ella Shephard, from the University of Auckland's feminist group took to the stairs of Aotea Square next.

"I'm mad that it's 2019 and we're still talking about these issues that my mother and grandmother were talking about."

Protesters hold placards in Aotea Square. Photo / Anna Rawhiti-ConnellProtesters hold placards in Aotea Square. Photo / Anna Rawhiti-Connell

Shepherd said it wasn't enough simply to remove abortion from the crimes act - we needed to make abortion accessible to all New Zealanders.

This week Alabama's Republican governor signed the most stringent abortion legislation in the US, making performing an abortion an offence in nearly all cases.

"To the bill's many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians' deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God," Governor Kay Ivey said.

The bill's sponsors want to give conservatives on the US Supreme Court a chance to gut abortion rights nationwide, but Democrats and abortion rights advocates criticised the bill as a slap in the face to women voters.

The legislation Alabama senators passed would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison for the provider. The only exception would be when the woman's health is at serious risk. Women seeking or undergoing abortions wouldn't be punished.

The legislation has sparked debate around the world with both sides of the argument organising rallies.

Deborah Russell, Labour MP for New Lynn, kicked off speeches at the rally, saying there had been "constructive discussions" in parliament in recent weeks.

"Something is happening" Russell said.

Ella Shephard, from the University of Auckland's feminist group took to the stairs of Aotea Square next.

"I'm mad that it's 2019 and we're still talking about these issues that my mother and grandmother were talking about."

Shepherd said it wasn't enough simply to remove abortion from the crimes act - we needed to make abortion accessible to all New Zealanders.

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