Candidates quizzed on abortion, euthanasia

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 22/08/2014

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Palmerston North's MP has told a meeting of church leaders he would support the first reading of a bill on euthanasia.

At a candidates event organised by the Palmerston North Catholic Leaders' Association, Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway said he would support legislation on assisted suicide for those with terminal illnesses at the first vote so it could go to a select committee.

That would give people, including his constituents, a chance to tell Parliament what they thought about the issue, he said.

His main rival for the city electorate, National candidate Jono Naylor, said he would not support such legislation because there were risks with how it would be interpreted.

"To actually take an action that takes someone's life, it's a slippery slope to say it's OK, at what point is that OK?"

Naylor said it was safer to stay with the status quo.

Candidates from five parties attended yesterday's meeting, with discussion on euthanasia and abortion arising from a question on their views on the dignity of all human life.

Naylor said he did not see a need to change abortion laws.

"It's already too easy for young people, or anyone to have an abortion."

Lees-Galloway said while he did not want to see people having to have abortions, he did not think they should be a crime.

He also called for more support to help women prevent unplanned pregnancies and moves to make adopting children easier.

About 15,000 New Zealand women abort pregnancies each year.

The Green Party has a proposal to remove abortion from the crime statutes.

Their policy would mean a woman seeking an abortion would not need to convince two consultants that carrying the child to term would cause her serious physical or mental harm.

Green Party Te Tai Hauauru candidate Jack McDonald said that women needed "safe and accessible access to the healthcare they need".

"I don't believe abortion should be in the Crimes Act or that the current system works well," McDonald said.

Conservative Party Palmerston North candidate Mark Pearce said his party did not have a policy on either abortion or euthanasia.

However, his personal view was that the rate of abortions in New Zealand was too high and he did not support euthanasia.

Internet Party Palmerston North candidate Pani Farvid had answered each question first and interpreted the question on dignity of life to be about social equality.

Speaking after the meeting Farvid said her party did not have a policy on assisted suicide.

Its views on abortion were "very much in line" with the Green Party, such as decriminalising abortion and allowing it up until the 20th week of gestation.

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Yesterday's debate was held in front of an audience of about 50 Christian church leaders and parishioners at Stream Gathering Wesleyan Church in Highbury.

Candidates were also asked about topics such as alcohol legislation, social equality, religious education in schools and regional development.

- Manawatu Standard

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