Narelle Henson: Overhaul of abortion laws overdue
OPINION: The Labour Party got it right. New Zealand's abortion laws do need an overhaul.
All of the evidence points to our society having changed in the 40 years since the procedure became legal.
As I've previously written, we made aborting calves illegal three years ago on the basis that it was "inhumane" and forced vets to breech their duty of care. It is now obvious that this logic also applies to human babies.
The incredible advances in technology and science have given us the ability to peer into the womb and study its contents in detail. Social media and search engines have made this information available to all of us.
And what that science tells us, in the words of one secular humanist, is that from day one that clump of cells is an individual member of the human species. By week two that new member of our species has the beginnings of its own brain. By week six its very own heart is beating.
We know too, thanks to a recent poll by ALRANZ – New Zealand's pro abortion lobby group – that support for abortion is lowest when it is about choice only.
The most critical part of the report, for those who believe in life, is that it asked 1000 people about their support for abortion in different situations.
These situations ranged from the mother's life being endangered by the pregnancy, to the mother simply not wanting to be a mum.
As the extremity of the scenario decreased, so too did the support for abortion. In fact, by the time that respondents were asked whether abortion should be available for those who just don't want to be a mum, support had plummeted from 77 per cent (when a mother's life is endangered) to 51 per cent.
That means half of the country is either opposed or is unconvinced, by the claim that abortion is merely a choice.
Ironically, supporters of abortion say the law needs changing to make it easier for those women who just want access to the choice.
But most importantly we know the law is out of date because babies in the womb are no longer voiceless. The survivors of abortions performed in the 1970s and 1980s are now old enough and confident enough to speak out. In fact, they are even setting up groups, like The Abortion Survivors Network, which requires members to have documentation supporting their story.
And those stories are harrowing – they have survived saline abortions meant to essentially burn them to death in the womb, or procedures meant to cut them into pieces inside the womb, before they were removed.
Overwhelmingly they say that they are thankful to have been given life, and they plead for us to give that right to every unborn child. Many of those most prominent voices, like Melissa Ohden or Josiah Presley, say they forgive the women who tried to abort them, and hold no grudge – they simply want every child to have a chance at life.
So yes, we need to change our laws. We need women seeking an abortion to no longer be seen as criminals, but rather the doctors willing to perform these procedures.
We need to strengthen the law and make it clear that abortion is only there as a last resort in a desperate situation.
And we need to re-target funding to adoption services and support, to make sure our country is known for its compassion – for both mother and baby. We also need to increase support for women going through a crisis pregnancy.
Most of all, we need to stop pretending that death is a moderate solution, and start giving the right to life to all members of our species.