Abortion and politics

When parliament debated the Care of Children Act back in 2004 support was split along party lines.  One key issue of difference was whether or not girls under 16 should have to tell their parents if they wanted to have an abortion.  The status quo, that girls did not have to tell their parents, had been in place since 1977.

The Justice and Select Committee which received submissions comprised Tim Barnett, Lianne Dalziel, Russell Fairbrother, Dave Hereora, Moana Mackey (all Labour); Judith Collins and Richard Worth (both National); Stephen Franks (ACT); Dail Jones (New Zealand First); Murray Smith (United Future); and Nandor Tanczos (Green).  When it came to the contested clause about parental notifications, this committee agreed:

Although the submissions we received contained many opinions about the clause, we did not receive any evidence of the provision being abused, even though it has been operative for 27 years.

Despite this National, New Zealand First, United Future, Act and the Maori Party voted against the bill.  Some of the politicians most vehemently against are high up in Government now.  Unsurprisingly Bill English had lots to say.  Judith Collins wanted to amend the non-problematic provision to ensure parental control:

Seventy percent of the people in this country believe that parents need to be in charge, and that they do need to know about abortions. The issue is not about taking the opportunity to be mean to girls, or to tell them what they should do with their lives.

Quite how “parents being in charge” can possibly include “not telling girls what to do with their lives” is not further explained by Ms Collins.

Then there’s Nick Smith, making it clear whose rights are at stake:

Is it not interesting that members opposite are all very keen to have gay rights, they are all very keen to have workers’ rights, they are all very keen to have human rights, and they even want to have prostitutes’ rights, but when it comes to parents’ rights this Government is not interested?

Restricting access to abortion starts with the “easy wins” – none for girls under 16 unless parents say so, none after such-and-such date – but rest assured, campaigns for these restrictions have one aim in mind. Control of women’s bodies.  And that should concern all of us who believe women need the right to decide when we have children.  It’s the thin end of a very women-hating wedge.

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