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Abortion – another right National will erode

datePosted on 22:14, March 22nd, 2009 by Anita

In 2007 14 members of the current National cabinet[1] voted to support an amendment by Gordon Copeland which would have put an anti-abortion doctor onto the Abortion Supervisory Committee in an attempt to restrict access to abortion. Since early this decade National has been building its relationships with conservative and evangelical churches, trading policies and promises for votes even bring a minister from a conservative evangelical church into caucus.

At the same time the anti-anti-smacking lobby is regrouping around an anti-abortion campaign – a lobby National owes a significant debt of gratitude. (Try about half way down this, search for “Andy Moore” if it’s quicker than scrolling)

Restricting our right to abortion is on the agenda for National’s first term.

 

[1] 14 of the 19 who were able to vote at the time.

categoryPosted in Feminism, Parliament | printPrint

37 Responses to “Abortion – another right National will erode”

  1. Madeleine on March 23rd, 2009 at 00:06

    Let’s hope so.

    PS. Stating abortion is a right is not an argument, is not offering evidence, it is just a baseless assertion.

    If abortion kills someone then its not a right, no one has a right to kill.

    If abortion does not kill someone then saying you have a right to it is up there with the statement I have a right to have my tonsils taken out – its kind of extreme.

    The issue with abortion is which of the preceeding statements is correct and you don’t establish that by stating it is a right.

  2. Madeleine on March 23rd, 2009 at 00:08

    Lets hope so.

  3. Laura on March 23rd, 2009 at 00:36

    Many thanks to you Anita for covering this issue re your article posted on No Right Turn before the election.

    At election time TVNZ, TV3 and all the major news outlets refused to cover this issue. Apparantly all the political parties were against making it an election issue including the Green party.
    I wonder if Helen wanted it kept quiet to further her chances of that job she’s applied for? There will be a range of reasons for the silence of course.
    NZ women were sold out by all the NZ media, our political parties and many organisations. E.g. Rape Crisis who must be aware that restrictions on abortion will put rape victims in a very difficult position despite the exception in the act. i.e Its very hard to prove rape so they might be denied on the grounds of lack of proof.
    Other womens organisations who recieve government funding all passed the buck and refused to get the word out to women including the “National Council Of Women”.
    I really think the election results might have been completely different had this event been covered by the NZ MSM Main Stream Media.
    John Key was asked about this on BFM radio and lied through his teeth about his own consience vote in favour of appointing an anti-abortion doctor to the head of the committee. First he said he did not want a law change regarding abortion. He knows he doesn’t need to change the law as abortion is illegal and as you know Anita only administered through the exceptions in the act which can be interpreted differently.
    It was put to Key that he must have some wish to change the current situation because of his consience vote. At this point he said falsely that he thought it was a party vote. He was not pushed on the matter and was allowed to get away with this outright lie thus distancing himself from any personal opinion. Looks like hes just a hollow man with not enough gumption to say what he thinks.
    I’m actually worried about loosing my interenet connection due to false copyright claims. Lets face it Telecom has strong ties to government. If anyone can please tell me who currently owns telecom that would be cool.

  4. Anita on March 23rd, 2009 at 05:22

    Madeleine writes,

    If abortion does not kill someone then saying you have a right to it is up there with the statement I have a right to have my tonsils taken out – its kind of extreme.

    The right is about ones right to choose and ones right to maintain control overs ones own body (rather than that control being held by others). Not the right to a particular medical procedure.

    Incidentally, even if you believe that abortion “kills someone” then you are talking about two competing rights.

  5. Laura on March 23rd, 2009 at 09:11

    Its my view in the early stages of pregnacy a foetus is no more a human being than is a sperm. In recent years women have been hoodwinked by the fact that a foetus has a pulse as meaning it is a life. By that token we should make sure all sperm is protected also as they swim and move vigorously.
    A foetus in the early stages of pregnancy does not have a brain so abortion is equivalant to the situation of a fully grown person being removed from life support because they are brain dead.
    It is a matter of belief as to wether a few divided cells is a human being. I dont think it is. No one is forcing folk that believe differently to have an abortion.

    The church’s belief must not be allowed to control womens lives. This will truely be the nanny state if they are allowed to do this.

    Its amazing the levels of deception the anti-abortion crowd go to. They distribute pictures of fully formed healthy foetuses when in fact abortion is never preformed on healthy full term foetusus.
    I actually saw an anti-abortion article in the NZ herald about a year ago with a photo of a fully formed foetus with hair on its head. Pure propaganda in our leading newspaper.
    Its also amazing that when you mention the negative effects for women of not been able to obtain an abortion when they have been raped etc the anti-abortion crowd never make any response to it. Its like the woman “an undisputable life” does not exist and doesn’t matter.
    In countries where abortion is illegal there are more abortions than those countries where its legal. This often leads to dire consequences for womens health so by putting a stop to legal abortions you are not actually achieving anything. All you will achieve is perhaps killing a few women and injuring many more who’s atempts at a backyard abortion go wrong.
    I guess if they don’t die in the attempt you can send them to jail.

  6. Julie Fairey on March 23rd, 2009 at 09:15

    Thanks for writing about this Anita. We have been having a bit of a debate with one ZenTiger over at The Hand Mirror about abortions in the context of very young mothers (9 yo pregnant with twins, and a 13yo, both in Brazil). While it is getting quite tiresome it is an indicator that there is new energy in this debate, luckily from both sides I think.

  7. StephenR on March 23rd, 2009 at 09:44

    Restricting our right to abortion is on the agenda for National’s first term.

    Well I would think most people would be in favour of restricting abortion rights – if rights weren’t restricted, then abortions could be done at 8 months, presumably. So the question is the extent, I would’ve thought.

  8. jcuknz on March 23rd, 2009 at 09:59

    As Blaise Pascal put it “Men [and women] never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction”

    Personally I am against abortion but fully in support of the concept that it is the woman’s concern/choice and view with utter disgust most of the anti-lobby’s propaganda.

  9. KINTO on March 23rd, 2009 at 11:42

    If abortion kills someone then its not a right, no one has a right to kill.

    If abortion does not kill someone then saying you have a right to it is up there with the statement I have a right to have my tonsils taken out – its kind of extreme.

    This is exactly the point. Personally I am against abortion, if I was a female, and pregnant I would never get one, as I believe in option 1 above. But that is all it is, a belief, I would never try to prevent someone from, or judge someone for choosing option 2.

  10. QoT on March 23rd, 2009 at 12:04

    Well I would think most people would be in favour of restricting abortion rights – if rights weren’t restricted, then abortions could be done at 8 months, presumably. So the question is the extent, I would’ve thought.

    Not for me. I have no problem with accepting that women have a right to abort at any stage of pregnancy, because the idea that anyones wakes up one morning 8 months in a says, “Nah, I don’t feel like having a baby any more!” is both idiotic and a great reflection of “prolifers'” actual feelings about women.

    On the other hand, if a woman gets to 8 months’ gestation and only then discovers that the foetus is unlikely to survive outside the womb, or that continuing the pregnancy will kill her … I’m guessing, StephenR, that this would be less problematic to you?

  11. StephenR on March 23rd, 2009 at 12:54

    On the other hand, if a woman gets to 8 months’ gestation and only then discovers that the foetus is unlikely to survive outside the womb, or that continuing the pregnancy will kill her … I’m guessing, StephenR, that this would be less problematic to you?

    Well like I said, the question is to what extent. “Nah, I don’t feel like having a baby any more!” may be idiotic and unlikely but is probably a poor reason to abort, hence restrictions on that sort of abortion – don’t think you have to be ‘pro-life’ to feel that way.

    Never really engaged in abortion-talk, I must say, so don’t presume I know much background or have a specific agenda.

  12. Danyl Mclauchlan on March 23rd, 2009 at 13:16

    Late term abortions are almost always carried out (a) because the Mother didn’t know she was pregnant, or didn’t want to admit it or (b) the Mother has had a dramatic change in circumstance (typically their partner has left them).

    There are fairly obvious problems of consistency there. If you have a premature baby in your 8th month and your partner leaves you, you obviously aren’t allowed to murder the child. I think there are real issues around the ethics of making late term abortions readily available, 1st term abortions – when you’re killing something that doesn’t really have a central nervous system – are much less problematic.

  13. Julie Fairey on March 23rd, 2009 at 13:56

    Well I would think most people would be in favour of restricting abortion rights – if rights weren’t restricted, then abortions could be done at 8 months, presumably. So the question is the extent, I would’ve thought.

    I too found this a curious comment to make. Actually there are quite a lot of New Zealanders in favour of extending abortion rights from where they are now, i.e. to actual safe and legal abortion on demand. I’m not making any claims that it’s a majority, mind. I have no idea.

    To throw in a small aside, McGillicuddy Serious’ policy used to be abortion on demand to the age of 18 years old!

  14. StephenR on March 23rd, 2009 at 14:01

    Actually there are quite a lot of New Zealanders in favour of extending abortion rights from where they are now, i.e. to actual safe and legal abortion on demand.

    I would also guess that there are an awful lot of NZers who’ve never discussed abortion and the issues that surround it in their life, which is something to consider when making statements like the above…

  15. QoT on March 23rd, 2009 at 14:15

    Well like I said, the question is to what extent. “Nah, I don’t feel like having a baby any more!” may be idiotic and unlikely but is probably a poor reason to abort, hence restrictions on that sort of abortion – don’t think you have to be ‘pro-life’ to feel that way.

    What you’re doing, Stephen, is presuming to judge how women think, and to decide whether they are capable of making rational decisions.

    As soon as you even feel the need to say, “Well obviously we can restrict “silly” abortions” you’re letting the world know you think women are stupid and cannot be trusted to make decisions concerning their own bodies.

    There are fairly obvious problems of consistency there. If you have a premature baby in your 8th month and your partner leaves you, you obviously aren’t allowed to murder the child. I think there are real issues around the ethics of making late term abortions readily available, 1st term abortions – when you’re killing something that doesn’t really have a central nervous system – are much less problematic.

    There are only problems of consistency if you’re honestly going to argue that there isn’t a very clear difference between a foetus using a specific woman’s internal bodily resources and a physically-autonomous infant.

  16. Danyl Mclauchlan on March 23rd, 2009 at 14:22

    There are only problems of consistency if you’re honestly going to argue that there isn’t a very clear difference between a foetus using a specific woman’s internal bodily resources and a physically-autonomous infant.

    There is not a very clear difference. Premature babies are not ‘autonomous’ – they’re almost always relying on physicians to keep them alive, just as in-utero infants are relying on their Mother. We don’t give neo-natal staff the right to choose if the babies in their care live or die. Obviously it’s not ‘the same’ but it’s not that different either.

  17. StephenR on March 23rd, 2009 at 14:23

    QoT, er, just to get a sense of where you’re coming from…it seems like you favour abortions any time, for any reason?

  18. Pascal's bookie on March 23rd, 2009 at 14:46

    Supporting the right to have an abortion is not the same as being in favour of abortions.

    Late term abortions are almost always carried out (a) because the Mother didn’t know she was pregnant, or didn’t want to admit it or (b) the Mother has had a dramatic change in circumstance (typically their partner has left them).

    That would surprise me if true. I would have thought most would be for medical reasons. Almost always? Got links?

  19. Danyl Mclauchlan on March 23rd, 2009 at 14:58

    That would surprise me if true. I would have thought most would be for medical reasons. Almost always? Got links?

    It’s anecdotal evidence from an ob/gyn friend who works in family planning, but good old Wikipedia backs me up.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late-term_abortion#Reasons_for_later_abortion

    According to the study they cite, in the US ~2% of late term abortions are due to medical factors, while 71% cited ‘Woman didn’t recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation’ as their reason.

    Obviously that’s the US in 1987, not here – but my friend has no reason to lie to me and does actually perform abortions, so this anecdotal claim seems robust

  20. Pascal's bookie on March 23rd, 2009 at 15:12

    Thanks.

    the whole list makes for interesting reading

    71% Woman didn’t recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation
    48% Woman found it hard to make arrangements for abortion
    33% Woman was afraid to tell her partner or parents
    24% Woman took time to decide to have an abortion
    8% Woman waited for her relationship to change
    8% Someone pressured woman not to have abortion
    6% Something changed after woman became pregnant
    6% Woman didn’t know timing is important
    5% Woman didn’t know she could get an abortion
    2% A fetal problem was diagnosed late in pregnancy
    11% Other ”

    According to the study they cite, in the US ~2% of late term abortions are due to medical factors, while 71% cited ‘Woman didn’t recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation’ as their reason.

    err, not quite. It’s a reason they gave. And this study is about all abortions after 16 weeks, not the 8 months example. So I wouldn’t extrapolate their 71% out to 8 months. Not that I’m saying you were…

  21. George Darroch on March 23rd, 2009 at 17:58

    Well I would think most people would be in favour of restricting abortion rights – if rights weren’t restricted, then abortions could be done at 8 months, presumably. So the question is the extent, I would’ve thought.

    What Anita is talking about is ‘restriction’ in the sense of ‘further restriction’. You’re talking about ‘restriction’ meaning ‘conditions’. Two different things, and you’ve conflated them.

  22. BeShakey on March 23rd, 2009 at 18:34

    I’m a bit underwhelmed to be honest.
    National supported putting an anti-abortion doctor onto the Abortion Supervisory Committee – not something I’d support, but hardly a sign of an imminent major change of abortion law.
    Jonathan Young – a backbench MP, not in Cabinet and unlikely to be this term, and no other signs of having much impact on a very large caucus.
    And the article you link to is from a group that has been around for a very long term with little noticeable impact. I’m sure some National MPs will be more sympathetic, but again, hardly a sign of impending change.

  23. Anita on March 23rd, 2009 at 20:03

    Late stage abortion and parental consent for children and typical edge case discussions used to distract from the core issue.

    Should the regulation of abortion (for trimester one pregnancies in adults) in New Zealand be restricted further than it already is? Because there is every indication that this is what the National government and their conservative allies will do.

  24. Anita on March 23rd, 2009 at 20:06

    National supported putting an anti-abortion doctor onto the Abortion Supervisory Committee – not something I’d support, but hardly a sign of an imminent major change of abortion law.

    It is not necessary to change the law to further restrict access to abortion. Changing the make up of the committee to make it anti-abortion would be enough. Do you think that they won’t do that?

    Jonathan Young – a backbench MP, not in Cabinet and unlikely to be this term, and no other signs of having much impact on a very large caucus.

    Johnathan Young alone, I agree, would be overlookable, but he is one example of National’s increasingly close ties with evangelical and conservative churches.

    And the article you link to is from a group that has been around for a very long term with little noticeable impact. I’m sure some National MPs will be more sympathetic, but again, hardly a sign of impending change.

    True of some of the groups. It’s Unity for Liberty that’s worth a second glance. They’re a new group that was very effective in last year’s petition/election campaign and has ties to political parties.

  25. Ari on March 23rd, 2009 at 20:25

    Well I would think most people would be in favour of restricting abortion rights – if rights weren’t restricted, then abortions could be done at 8 months, presumably. So the question is the extent, I would’ve thought.

    No, I think many people have issues with such hard restrictions even if they’re pro-life to some degree, or support the “free*, safe and rare” model like I do.

    I think rather than restrictions we should be doing things that empower and open up all relevant choices for women, without trying to preach too much about them

    *Free as in freedom, not as in “free beer”. :)

  26. Ian Llewellyn on March 23rd, 2009 at 20:41

    Interesting post, but I have not picked up mood amongst National ministers to re-open the abortion debate.
    Even those who would be categorised as anti-abortion or even dubious about how the current law is being interpreted by the council or doctors don’t appear to have the stomach for the divisive political fight that would unfold.
    I was amazed last year when the court ruling came out about the council not applying the law correctly (my quick summary from memory) that no politician started beating the drums.
    It was quietly ignored.
    I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that National have bigger problems to deal with and are already looking at 2011.
    Last thing I would want if I was them was another social issues debate distracting them (they will have enough problems with the smacking referendum) and any vote would be consience based making it very difficult to make any radical changes.
    I could be totally wrong, but just my 5 cents worth (or does that have to be 10 cents now)

  27. Anita on March 23rd, 2009 at 21:18

    Ian Llewellyn,

    I also can’t imagine National re-opening the abortion debate. I can easily imagine them quietly stacking the ASC with anti-abortion doctors which will further restrict access to abortion without starting any kind of debate.

  28. BeShakey on March 24th, 2009 at 09:11

    It is not necessary to change the law to further restrict access to abortion. Changing the make up of the committee to make it anti-abortion would be enough. Do you think that they won’t do that?

    Yes I do think that the party, as a whole, won’t do that. Undoubtedly there are individuals who would love to, but I don’t think its an area they want to venture into. Interestingly, some quick number crunching suggests that if the same proportion of the Nats voted for putting an anti-abortion Dr on the committe (14/19) those opposed plus the Greens and Labour would be enough to block it.

    Johnathan Young alone, I agree, would be overlookable, but he is one example of National’s increasingly close ties with evangelical and conservative churches.

    Given he was the only example you gave its hard to argue against the others. Generally speaking Key has been eager to reach out to anyone and everyone, including, for instance, the LGBQT community.

    True of some of the groups. It’s Unity for Liberty that’s worth a second glance. They’re a new group that was very effective in last year’s petition/election campaign and has ties to political parties.

    Perhaps, but the election didn’t make an issue of abortion, despite the ground appearing ripe for anyone that wanted to.

  29. Laura on March 24th, 2009 at 13:28

    Hey BeShakey

    If you re-read that it actually says (i think) 14 of the 19 national MPs who were able to vote at the time. i.e. some nats must have been absent.
    Please correct this if its wrong. Thats a very high percentage of those present.

    What bugged me about Key was that he deliberately lied. I have no faith in someone like that. Hes lied about other things too.

    I think you should read this article What cooked the worlds economy
    The article details how Allan Greenspan was to blame for removing anti-bucketsop regulations from hedgefunds back in 1997 after a big fight with Brooksley Born (woman), who headed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The removal of regulation from hedgefunds was what allowed the replicating of derivatives (insurance on securites) till they reached $600 trillion, 10 times the size of the markets and a lot more than the 1.2 trillion dollars worth of mortgage defaults.
    John Key was one of only 4 invitation only advisors to Allan Greenspan from 1999 to 2001 and his specialty was “Bonds and Derivates”. Before that time he was working for Merrill Lynch when the fight & lobbying to remove these very old regulations specifically from hedge funds was happening in congress. Being an on the scene specialist in the field of derivatives he would have known about this drama and the predictions and concerns of Brooksly Born which are now obvious. Many insiders must have been known about this for a while.
    I would say Mr key has known about this for a long time. If not he’s an incompetent in his field.
    What advice he gave Greenspan ofcourse is unknown.

  30. BeShakey on March 24th, 2009 at 14:57

    If you re-read that it actually says (i think) 14 of the 19 national MPs who were able to vote at the time. i.e. some nats must have been absent.Please correct this if its wrong. Thats a very high percentage of those present.

    My reading was that it was 14 of 19 current Cabinet members. So it would exclude Joyce and I guess the other 4 were absent. While it’s clearly a high percentage, my point was that it wasn’t 100%, and if the same percentage was applied to the current caucus there would be a majority in opposition with Labour and the Greens. Of course, this is only illustrative, but it suggests that unless the National caucus unifies around the issue, which seems unlikely, such a is change is unlikely

    What bugged me about Key was that he deliberately lied. I have no faith in someone like that. Hes lied about other things too.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Key apologist. But I’d rather worry about the things that are actually being done, or are likely to. In my opinion this isn’t likely to occur this term.

  31. Pascal's bookie on March 24th, 2009 at 15:22

    Shakey, i guess it comes down to two questions, both with unknowable answers as far as we are concerned…

    1)How much does National feel it owes anti abortion rights voters

    2)How much pressure can/will those voters apply

    Given we don’t know the answers, it can’t hurt to apply pressure from the other direction…

  32. BeShakey on March 24th, 2009 at 18:24

    Given we don’t know the answers, it can’t hurt to apply pressure from the other direction…

    I think that’s the key area where I disagree. I think that there isn’t any good reason to think National is planning to make significant changes in this area. If they do then I suspect I’d be strongly opposed. I guess if the only area of politics one has any concern about is the abortion issue then your statement is true. But for anyone with a broader set of concerns it would make sense to use their time and effort into areas either where National is planning on making actual changes, or where there is reason to think that progress might be made.

  33. Laura on March 24th, 2009 at 20:12

    BeShakey

    If the ability for women to get safe abortions is lost here is what women including myself will face.

    If a woman is raped and fears possible pregnancy she will simply not be able to go to the police about the rape. As you know rape is difficult to prove as it is. I think most women in this situation would want to make certain they were not pregnant before approaching the authorities so that if they were in trouble then they could have a backstreet abortion here or if they had the money and could take time away from work and perhaps kids get a safe abortion in Australia.

    Men are not fools and I’m betting a few of them would see this as a free pass to go on rape rampages without fear of being prosecuted so life will become even scarier for the rest of us gals.
    There might also be husbands raping their wives then forcing them to bear the child with threats of prosecution if their wife has an abortion. This sort of thing used to happen all the time.
    Married couples often have unplaned pregnancies and abortions. If a woman is forced to quit her job to tend a newborn some couples might loose the roof over theirs and their already born childrens heads. When many couples struggle just to pay for rent and food unplanned pregnancies are a serious issue.

    I wonder how a single working mother would cope with being raped and not been able to have an abortion because she cannot prove it. This is what some men in NZ are dreaming of. Destitute women who they could not normally get might just be compelled financially to seek their help through marriage, sexual favours etc.

    Im sure its not a major issue for you unless you are female.
    In my view the whole feminist issue comes down to control through the impoverishment of mothers. Theres also lots of propaganda thrown in.

  34. BeShakey on March 24th, 2009 at 21:38

    If the ability for women to get safe abortions is lost here is what women including myself will face.

    I’m perfectly aware of the issues women would face, although perhaps your point is they are slightly less real to me.

    My point is that abortion rights are not the only issue women face. Why spend energy focussing on an area where there isn’t any good reason to think the government is planning on making change at the expense of other areas where they are.

  35. Laura on March 25th, 2009 at 07:12

    Yes there are many other areas of concern.
    But I think you can gauge the importance of this particular issue by many womens reaction to hearing what NZ first and National attempted to do. More than any other topic this frightens the hell out of them although those women who are past child bearing age don’t seem to care that much.

    The poverty women experience in life, that keeps them compliant and silent is largley due to motherhood and the fact that the resources provided in nature for the purpose of motherhood have been taken and sold off to a capialist world. Being forced to bear, care for and often being left to take sole responibility for children without resources is the difficulty from which most of the other problems women face arise.
    I personally think National are planning to do something on this issue. Hope Im wrong.

  36. Ari on March 28th, 2009 at 19:26

    Given he was the only example you gave its hard to argue against the others. Generally speaking Key has been eager to reach out to anyone and everyone, including, for instance, the LGBQT community.

    Well, sure, as long as that reaching out doesn’t involve any commitment to more moderate policy, why wouldn’t he have some nice photos taken?

  37. Nil EInne on April 2nd, 2009 at 00:55

    While I could be wrong, I don’t think National will touch abortion the same way Labour didn’t touch it. Not unless it either 1) Comes up in a private member bill OR 2) They’re extremely desperate for someone’s support (which seems unlikely in this term anyway)

    Abortion is one of those political hot potatoes that no one important in the main parties dares touch with a 5 foot barge pole. Even someone like Bill English won’t dare touch it IMHO. The only chance National will is if they want to liberalise the law because they’ll know it’s not something Labour can attack them on (similar to the way the only chance our anti-nuclear will ever be removed or reduced is if it’s National)

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