28 Jul 2020

National MPs' full term abortion claims 'silly' - Andrew Little

5:40 pm on 28 July 2020

There's no such thing as full-term abortion, Justice Minister Andrew Little says, and he is calling out MPs who are claiming there is.

National MP Harete Hipango gives her maiden speech.

National MP Harete Hipango. Photo: Parliament TV

National MP Harete Hipango has come under fire for a Facebook post accusing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of supporting abortion up to full-term.

"For a PM who supports abortion to full term (yes that's right a full-term baby up until birth can be aborted - and for those who denounce and decry saying nonsense it would never occur, the fact is this PM supported this law being made - it is lawful, whether or not it is utilised) and other atrocious unnecessary violations of a human life in utero in amendments to the Abortion Act (where Abortion has for decades in NZ been lawful & treated as a health issue)," Harete wrote.

National MP Simon O'Connor shared Hipango's post and commented that the government "pushed through" the law ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown, and said aborting a full-term baby "sure has" been legalised.

Abortion reform legislation, which takes it out of the Crimes Act, was passed by a conscience vote in March with 68 votes for to 51 against.

The Abortion Legislation Bill drops any legal test for having the procedure earlier than 20 weeks, leaving the decision up to the woman and her doctor. A woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant can only have an abortion if a health practitioner reasonably believes that it is appropriate.*

National leader Judith Collins voted in favour of reform and said MPs were allowed their own views.

But Little said Hipango's comments were "silly".

"If Judith Collins is happy to have a bunch of radical, anti-abortion extremists running the show on social media, that's a matter for her. If she wants to rein them in she should do, if she's happy to let them go then no doubt she'll do that."

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Justice Minister Andrew Little. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

He said it was "stupid stuff and it would be sad if anybody believed there was any such thing as full-term abortion - there isn't".

"It's pretty bad when people in responsible positions, elected positions, community leadership positions, run those sort of lines - it's just silly.''

Collins said abortion was dealt with as a conscience issue for the National Party.

"It is certainly not something we have a party position on.

"I personally voted for the legislation - Harete is very strongly opposed to the legislation and the National Party people are allowed to have views that are not necessarily my views," she said.

"I would say that Harete is speaking from a position of her own belief - she's a very strong Catholic and her views are her own and they are not mine."

*Please note this sentence has been changed. It was originally worded “For an abortion to take place after 20 weeks, a number of criteria have to be met, and it has to be deemed necessary to save the woman's life or prevent serious injury.”

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