Unborn have no right to life, Court of Appeal rules

22:28, Jun 01 2011

The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court judge's ruling that unborn children do not have a right to life.

It also dismissed comments made by the judge about many abortions being granted "on request".

Right to Life sued the Abortion Supervisory Committee for allegedly failing to review whether certifying consultants were lawfully granting women abortions.

Right to Life said many abortions were wrongfully allowed on the grounds that keeping the baby would be a "threat to the women's mental health".

It said the committee should seek further information from consultants who approved abortions and ensure the law was complied with.

In a landmark High Court decision in 2008, Justice Forrie Miller said there were reasons to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions. The ASC appealed against that.

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However, Justice Miller rejected arguments that an unborn child had a legal right to life in New Zealand.

Right to Life appealed against that.

The Court of Appeal upheld his ruling that the law does not recognise an unborn child's right to life.

By a 2-1 majority, the court found that the ASC did not have the power to review certifying consultants' decisions as the decision was based on medical judgment alone.

"We consider that the appropriate channels of investigation would involve either a complaint by a patient or potentially by the committee itself, in which case the health and disability commissioner would become involved.

"Alternatively, there might be a complaint to the police, in which case the police would investigate the matter."

The majority also quashed Justice Miller's findings on the lawfulness of abortions and comments relating to abortions "on request".

The Dominion Post