New Zealand picket defends women’s right to abortion

By Felicity Coggan
May 13, 2019
New Zealand picket defends women’s right to abortion
Militant/Felicity Coggan

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Supporters of a woman’s right to choose abortion were welcomed by passersby April 13 as they picketed in defense of the Auckland Medical Aid Centre here, which provides abortion. The picket was the third in a series organized by Auckland Feminist Action to counter “Forty Days for Life” anti-abortion actions organized annually at the clinic.

“Abortion is a medical procedure that should be safe and readily available,” 22-year-old engineering student Melanie Duff told Communist League members at the protest. “If it’s hard to get, that doesn’t stop people getting abortions. It just makes them more unsafe.”

In New Zealand abortion is deemed illegal under the Crimes Act unless a series of criteria are met. Women must satisfy two doctors — “certifying consultants” — that they are legally qualified to have the procedure. The vast majority of abortions that are permitted are on grounds that continuation of the pregnancy would endanger the woman’s mental health.

A report commissioned by the Labour-led coalition government last October proposed repeal of criminal offenses for abortion, a move promised by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the party’s 2017 election campaign. But her government hasn’t introduced the legislation.

“Abortion should be like any other medical procedure,” Duff said. “Women should be able to go to their family doctor, rather than having to convince the provider that they are mentally or physically unfit. It’s demeaning to women.”