New Zealand abortion committee rejects judge’s finding that many abortions are illegal

New Zealand abortion committee rejects judge’s finding that many abortions are illegal


New Zealand’s Abortion Supervisory Committee is appealing a High Court judge’s decision that said there is reason to doubt the legality of many abortions in the country.

On June 9 Justice Forrest Miller, having a completed a Judicial Review of the Abortion Supervisory Committee on the High Court in Wellington, issued a judgement finding “there is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants. Indeed the Committee itself has stated that the law is being used more liberally than Parliament intended.”

“In my opinion, the statistics and the Committee’s comments over the years since the Court of Appeal made that observation do give rise to powerful misgivings about the lawfulness of many abortions,” he wrote, adding that the data tend to confirm the view that New Zealand “essentially has abortion on request.”

A registered practitioner may legally perform an abortion in New Zealand only if acting under a certificate approved by two consultants, who are appointed by the Abortion Supervisory Committee.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee is seeking to reverse Justice Miller’s judgment on several grounds in the Court of Appeals. According to a statement from Right to Life New Zealand, the committee’s appeal argues there was no evidence for doubting the lawfulness of many abortions or for its claim that the approval rate for abortions “seems remarkably high.”

The appeal also argues that the Court made a legal error in concluding that the committee can form its own opinion about the lawfulness of consultants’ decisions to grant or to refuse approval for an abortion.

Right to Life New Zealand said it is confident the Court of Appeal will uphold Justice Miller’s ruling. The organization also stated it will cross-appeal and re-present its case, previously denied in the High Court, arguing for the legal recognition of the status of the unborn child.