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Fresh calls to decriminalise abortion

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6 days ago

Nelson Marlborough DHB and surgeon have been blamed for a string of errors that led to a patient's death. © Getty Nelson Marlborough DHB and surgeon have been blamed for a string of errors that led to a patient's death. Despite New Zealand's abortion rate falling to its lowest in 25 years, there is still a need to reform laws that make abortion a crime, a lobby group says.

The country's abortion rate fell to 12,823 last year, down from 13,155 in 2015, Statistics NZ revealed on Monday.

The general abortion rate - abortions per 1000 women aged between 15 and 44 - was down from 14.2 to 13.5.

The rate also fell among young women, dropping from a peak of 41 per 1000 in 2003 to 21 in 2016 for those aged 20 to 24. For 15- to 19-year-olds the rate dropped from 26 to nine per 1000 over the same period.

Yet despite these falling rates, abortion is still legally a crime, Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand president Terry Bellamak says.

"Abortion is a health issue, not a crime. New Zealand's archaic laws reflect a time when women were considered unfit to make decisions for themselves. Those days are gone," she said.

"A majority of New Zealanders support access to legal abortion in all circumstances. Our laws must be reformed to reflect that reality."

Ms Bellamak called on the country's political parties to commit to reforming the law as part of their policy platform heading into September's election. .

"The current laws require women to pretend mental illness in order to get the care they need. These laws are absurd."

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