National Party MP Alfred Ngaro says number of abortions in New Zealand is a 'tragedy'
National MP and possible leader of a new breakaway party Alfred Ngaro says no woman has been made to feel like a criminal for seeking an abortion in New Zealand.
Ngaro's comments came when asked if he supported taking abortion out of the Crimes Act, where it currently sits in New Zealand.
The National list MP is openly exploring the possibility of splitting off from National and starting a new Christian political party, saying a lot of Kiwis felt like their values were not being represented in Parliament.
On Saturday, Ngaro shared a pro-life Facebook post describing abortion as a "holocaust in our nation".
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Ngaro said on Tuesday that he had not read the whole post and a better word for situation was a "tragedy".
But he pushed back strongly on the Government's proposed abortion reform, which would take the procedure out of the Crimes Act.
"Here's the thing: Has any woman actually ever been made to feel like a criminal? Absolutely not. Those provisions have been there for some time," Ngaro said.
He said the Government were making a mistake "poking the bear" by attempting to reform abortion laws.
Currently, a woman seeking an abortion need to get two certifying doctors to agree that continuing the pregnancy would result in serious danger to the person's mental or physical health.
The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed under the mental health provision.
Terry Bellamak of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand said Ngaro's comments were ridiculous.
"It sounds like Mr Ngaro has never ever spoken to a person who has had an abortion," Bellamak said.
"Not only do they feel like criminals but they are made to lie in order to get the healthcare they need."
Ngaro said the Government was pushing for abortions to be made legal at 40 weeks - full term.
"People are starting to say: Is this Government taking away the core values that this country was founded on?
"Do you accept that we should have abortions at 40 weeks? We are talking full term."
Currently, abortions can only take place after 20 weeks to save the life of the mother, with no legal ground if the fetus itself is not viable.
One of the three options proposed by the Law Comission for reform would not set a statutory test for abortions after 20 weeks, instead leaving that decision solely to a doctor and patient, as the law stands in Canada. The other two options would retain legal tests for abortions after 22 weeks, with one retaining a legal test for all abortions.
Bellamak said that a viable fetus exiting the womb at full term is called a "birth" and infanticide was always going to be against the law. She noted that sometimes when a non-viable fetus exited the womb the baby would be offered palliative care, but this was not an abortion.
"Less than 1 per cent of abortions happen after 22 weeks and those are generally to do with the healthcare of the mother of the fetus," Bellamak said.
National leader Simon Bridges said he didn't endorse Ngaro's comments but wouldn't censure him for them, as it was a conscience issue.
National MP Judith Collins said she had quite different views to Ngaro but abortion was a very "difficult" issue.
"I'm not Alfred Ngaro. Alfred's got his own views and I respect his views," Collins said.
She would not comment on whether Ngaro's views belonged within the National Party, saying that question was "above her pay grade".
Ngaro said he had spoken to Bridges about the possibility of leaving the party because he was an honourable man and didn't want Bridges to hear it second-hand.
He would not comment on whether or not he would be meeting with the New Conservatives.