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Coleman pro-choice, anti abortion reform

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/03/2017

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says he supports a woman's right to choose abortion, but doesn't believe current legislation needs changing.

With abortion legislation currently contained in the Crimes Act making it technically illegal, the abortion advisory committee has proposed a modernisation of the law.

Figures, released by the council to Fairfax, reveal the number of abortions happening in New Zealand are trending down, but the number of women who are told their case for an abortion is "not justified" has remained the same.

Last year 252 women were issued "not justified" certificates as a result of current laws which require two doctors to deem the procedure medically necessary or justified in order to be legal.

Figures are not kept on how many abortions were declined, as a third doctor can overrule those certificates.

Prime Minister Bill English, a pro-life Catholic, says changing abortion law is not a priority for him and he wouldn't vote in support of changes.

Mr Coleman on Tuesday said he supported women being given the right to choose but won't be pushing for changes in the law.

"I'm happy for the legislation as it is at the moment but strongly support a woman's right to choose," he said.

But Labour leader Andrew Little said that claim was contradictory.

"The law desn't provide for the woman's right to choose," he said when asked about Dr Coleman's comments.

Mr Little supports modernisation of the more than 40-year-old abortion legislation and said it's something Labour would "undertake to do at some point".

He said there was difficulty in understanding the data collected by the health system in terms of declined abortions and says that is grounds for a review.

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