18 Mar 2020

MPs reject NZ First bill for abortion law referendum

12:58 pm on 18 March 2020

MPs have blocked New Zealand First's bid to hold a referendum on proposed changes to abortion law.

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Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Final changes to the abortion legislation were debated by Parliament this morning. It is expected to go to its third and final reading this afternoon.

New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball had tried to amend the bill to make it conditional on a public referendum - but he managed to secure only 19 votes in support, with 100 MPs voting against.

The legislation - which now has one more hurdle to clear - would remove abortion from the Crimes Act and do away with the legal test for those seeking an abortion before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

After 20 weeks, a woman would require two clinicians to sign off on the procedure.