A bill reforming New Zealand’s Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion Act (Act) passed the first reading in Parliament on Thursday.
This bill proposes several changes to the Act. According to local news sources, “the biggest changes it proposes would see a current requirement for two doctors to have to approve an abortion on physical or mental health grounds dropped.” The amended bill no longer requires approval until after 20 weeks, at which point one doctor would have to agree that the procedure is appropriate in terms of her physical and mental health, and well-being.
In addition, the bill enables women to refer themselves for an abortion, no longer requiring a referral from a health practitioner.
The bill passed the first reading by a vote of 94 to 23. It was a conscience vote, meaning that MPs do not have to vote along party lines. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during the debate that “I draw a line when holding [personal views] impedes on the rights of others.”
This bill has now been referred to the Select Committee, after which it will must pass a second reading, a referral to a Committee of whole House, and a third reading before it is presented for royal assent.