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David Farrar gets it wrong on abortion law in NZ

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, October 3rd, 2014 - 43 comments
Categories: abortion, David Farrar - Tags: , , , , ,

(This post originally appeared at Boots Theory.)

Oops, two posts criticising DPF in a row, that’s a little weird – a consequence of the Labour Party’s leadership dominating the news, and my reticence about wading into that issue, I suspect!

But I have to correct him on this. In a post today about abortion rights around the world (linking to a really good interactive graphic from The Guardian) he says:

Oceania is low also, but in NZ we effectively have abortion on request – but not as a legal right.

Farrar is wrong. We don’t have abortion on request in New Zealand. Not literally, and not “effectively.”

Admittedly, abortion is a topic which doesn’t get a lot of coverage. Like most “morality” issues, it gets treated as taboo, dirty, not Proper Conversation. But it does get raised every now and then – The Wireless did some fantastic reporting as part of their “free” theme – so really, there’s no excuse to keep making these kinds of incorrect assumptions.

As ALRANZ’s “16 reasons to change New Zealand’s abortion laws” factsheetstates, our current laws dictate an onerous, expensive, dehumanizing process, where people have to see up to four different medical practitioners, often involving huge amounts of travel and time off work and childcare,

As ALRANZ says in another factsheet on the law, the reason some people have relatively good access to abortion services is because there is a strong network of doctors and providers in some parts of the country. If you’re not in an urban centre, it gets much more difficult.

And the current situation is repeatedly threatened by anti-abortion activists mounting legal action.

That isn’t “effectively abortion on request” at all.

Now, if we really did have easily-accessible abortion on request, even if not in name, I’d still have a problem with our laws. People deserve to be treated with dignity. Women (the majority of people who get pregnant are women, but not all) deserve not to have laws which explicitly assume that they as a class can’t make decisions about their own bodies, and can’t be trusted to tell the truth (rape isn’t included in the grounds for abortion, because – isn’t it always? – it was assumed women would lie about it).

But this isn’t just about the wording of our laws. This is about people having to crowdfund for tickets to Melbourne in order to get an abortion, in 2013.

Our abortion laws are outdated and harmful. And it’s not going to change if high-profile commentators like David Farrar keep spreading misinformation about it.

(Disclaimer: I am a proud member of ALRANZ.)

PS. Follow Stephanie on Twitter!

43 comments on “David Farrar gets it wrong on abortion law in NZ”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    Trust Farrar , as a man to arrogantly assume he knows what a woman has to go through to get an abortion- when it means asking the state for permission.

    I suppose he thinks its like getting Amazon to order some books – you know , on demand.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      A female acquaintance once said to him “I’d rather have an abortion than come to your party” and he extrapolated from there.

      • Murray Olsen 1.1.1

        I’d rather have another liver transplant than go to one of Farrar’s parties.

        I suspect Farrar doesn’t know any women well enough to know what is involved with abortions, or maybe the ones he knows can go private. I also suspect that NAct want to tighten the law and make access more difficult, maybe to cut Colon off at the pass.

  2. Tracey 2

    It’s a common misconception (no pun intended) amongst the ignorant. Ignorance has many guises.

  3. srylands 3

    [Stephanie: Lying is very bad and rolling out tired old illogical tropes about “but there were lots of abortions in NZ so it can’t be hard to get an abortion” is trolling. Please try again.]

  4. srylands 4

    Censoring people is very bad too. There were lots of abortions in New Zealand, and It isn’t very hard to get one.

    [Stephanie: You have no entitlement to derail posts on this site or call authors “precious”. Lots of people got their drivers’ licences last year, it doesn’t mean we have drivers’ licences on request.]

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      Says a man who has never had to get one, a walking advert for post-natal abortion.

      • According to srylands, this post is actually entitled “David Farrar is Evil Again and Lies Again”, or so he claims on Kiwiblog where he’s run off to tattle on me. That tells you everything you need to know about his sincerity on this thread.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1.1

          S Rylands derives his income by providing weasel justifications for right wing hate-based lawmakers. Everything he says is stained by conflicts of interest and ideology.

    • Foreign waka 4.2

      The last time I looked, women were not bound by some 16th century law.

      1/ women have the right to decide about their own body and health
      2/ it is no one else’s business as to what a women and their physician decides
      so get busy to engage into looking after the 250000 hungry kids in this county
      3/ Religion is a choice and ones faith should not be imposed on someone else
      4/ if one feels so much sympathy for the children, get busy to engage into looking after the 250000 hungry kids in this county

  5. unpcnzcougar 5

    I agree our laws are very outdated and this effects those who need to go through the public health system. Abortion on request is available if you go privately but costs around $2000.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      One law for all. Rubber stamps cost $2k. Almost worth burning down the whole corrupt mess and starting over. Almost.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Abortion on request is available if you go privately but costs around $2000.

      No they’re not. What you’re actually saying there is that, for a large sum, private doctors and hospitals are willing to break the law.

      • unpcnzcougar 5.2.1

        No, they don’t break the law. They simply speed the process up by getting another doctor in the practice to sign off and they advise you to have counselling. You are booked in immediately to a private hospital and that is what the fee is.

        The request must be signed off by two doctors and you must be advised to seek counselling if you feel you need it. That is what the law is.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.1.1

          Two tier healthcare isn’t a criminal offence? There’s an easy way to fix that.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.2

          No, they don’t break the law.

          Yeah, they do. It’s supposed to be two full consultations and not just two doctors signing off on the dotted line for lots of money.

          • unpcnzcougar 5.2.1.2.1

            I might make the assumption here that you are male. If a woman chooses to go private – trust me she has well and truly made up her mind and doesn’t wish to subject herself to the weeks that it takes to have an abortion through the public system.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.1.2.1.1

              You do realise you’re making my point for me, eh.

              Two tier healthcare: a crime in progress.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.2.1.2

              That doesn’t take away from the fact that the private system is breaking the law for profit.

              And, yes, I’m a male. I also happen to think that abortion should be available on request with appropriate counseling available upon request. I suppose that would upset the private profiteering and it’s supporters in government though.

            • Merrial 5.2.1.2.1.3

              @unpcnzcougar “…. she has well and truly made up her mind and doesn’t wish to subject herself to the weeks that it takes to have an abortion through the public system.”

              I completely agree with you; I quite understand why women who can afford it would wish to go private.

              However, that doesn’t undermine Draco T Bastard’s point about the questionable legality of how private clinics go about it. This does sound a bit like what many of us used to say about the dreadful parking by the matrons of Remuera at the Upland Rd shopping centre: the rules don’t apply to me, dear!

              I don’t doubt that most doctors think our abortion law isn’t fit for purpose – my Australian relatives are disbelieving at the fact of abortion still being illegal here (s187A Crimes Act 1961) – and probably aren’t averse to bending it, so to speak. But where does that leave all those women who, perforce, must rely on the public system? The poor, for instance, who are accused by hard-eyed right-wingers and others, of uncontrolled “breeding”. What about women in Wanganui and the West Coast – among other areas – where no services are available?

              Has anyone here read the wording of the CSA Act 1977, and of s187A of the Crimes Act? Dated, patronising and paternalist. Take ’em both out the back for a decent burial, say I. Time for a thorough overhaul of the law, along the lines of the situation prevailing in Australia.

  6. music4menz 6

    Several posters seem to think that abortion is a good subject for levity. References to ‘post natal abortion’ and ‘I’d rather have an abortion than come to your party’ suggest that some consider abortion a bit of a joke.

    Somehow I doubt that the pregnant woman or the aborted child would share that point of view.

  7. Brendon Ross 7

    Good post. I’m glad to see yet another person ready to correct this guys “mistakes”.
    Was actually at a little pro-choice protest today in little old sleep Thames. For too long, every Friday morning a bunch of no-choicer busy bodies have been standing outside the hospital making an incredibly difficult event even worse for people having a termination. Having been through this experience with a girlfriend many many years ago I have a strong contempt for these people and their simplistic ideas about how a woman or couple is just ‘selfish’ or plain evil.
    Finally 4 weeks ago I saw one incredibly brave woman standing opposite, holding up her hand-made “I’m pro-choice” sign. To protest something as emotionally charged as this alone, in a small town.. just incredible. I was happy to show my solidarity with her that day and keep her company… and each week since she has been back, facing down this group of mostly men and their ignorance. She has also drawn together a few more righteous (rioteous) grrrls. Smart and strong woman… I’m thinking there must have been a few mum’s reading Broadsheet back in the day to have raise such amazing young woman.
    So if you are ever in Thames on a Friday morning from 8 am, swing by the hospital and help stand up for the rights of woman to decide for their own damn selves what goes on with their wombs and their lives.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 7.1

      Good moderation on this thread 😀

      I know we have the “right” to free speech but surely it’s time we made it illegal to harrass women on their way to have an abortions. Totally unacceptable behavior with adverse health outcomes.

  8. David Farrar is not wrong.

    Unlike driver’s licenses, no woman is denied an abortion, while as a huge number of applicants fail to get their licenses every year due to not meeting the criteria. The criteria for abortion in NZ is that without it, the woman will suffer physical or mental harm if her pregnancy is not aborted. Even though it has been proven through numerous studies that abortion itself can cause physical and mental harm.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      So can authoritarian and/or faith-infested busybodies.

    • weka 8.2

      “no woman is denied an abortion,”

      Did you even bother to read the post? The bits about barriers? It’s not actually true that no woman is denied abortion (there are still anti-choice GPs in NZ), but the main point is that there are structural barriers to accessing abortion depending on where you live. Therefore Farrar’s assertion that we effectively have abortion on request is plain wrong. It would be more accurate to say that you can have an abortion on request so long as you jump through these hoops and know what to say when so that the gate keepers will agree and if you happen to live somewhere were abortion is difficult to access you will need extra money and time.

      • You_Fool 8.2.1

        Unless you happen to have $2k and can access the private health system, which will help you to streamline the process / break the law to ensure rich people get to live how they want.

    • Tracey 8.3

      are you saying no gp ever refused a woman the requisite referral? wasnt there a well publicised situation of a rural catholic gp doing just that? so thats one.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 8.3.1

        “In July 2013, the issue of ‘refusal to treat’ was again on the radar after a woman was refused contraception by her doctor. ALRANZ issued a media release, ‘Refusal to Prescribe Contraception Raises Wider Concern’, which also includes links to media coverage of the case.”
        http://www.alranz.org/laws/whyweneedachange/Refusaltotreat.html

        This was contraception in this case, yours maybe another, so even contraception may not be ‘on demand’ in NZ

    • Merrial 8.4

      @Lucia Maria: “Even though it has been proven through numerous studies that abortion itself can cause physical and mental harm.”

      Citations needed here.

      “no woman is denied an abortion”

      Just baldly asserting this doesn’t make it so, and you’re in no position to make such a claim. In my view, you would do well to refrain from attempting to tell other women what to do with their bodies; it isn’t your business. Stay out of it.

    • Foreign waka 8.5

      And in the name of religion women in back alley abortions are dying. Somehow, I don’t want to be part of such fundamentalist belief.

  9. adam 9

    I worry we are about to get another onslaught against women from this government. And it seems that the right are going to use any means necessary to do that. Abortion is a favoured tool, because men get quite irrational when talking about this issue. Sorry my fellow men, but some of the most rubbish, stupid and down right nutty things I have ever heard on this issue come from the mouths of men. And may I also point out it is men who have done the murders and bombings of abortion clinics and their doctors – not women. Farrar is just another, in a long line of males who think they know better and what is best for women. May I say it’s 2014, and I for one, am completely over patriarchy, and the bullshit it puts us all through.

  10. infused 10

    Uhh, it’s pretty damm easy to get one, and virtually abortion on request.

  11. ghostwhowalksnz 11

    On 26 November 2009 the New Zealand Health Professional Alliance was registered as an Incorporated Society. Those who signed were Catherine Hallagan (Wellington), Gillian Penno (Paremata), Kevin Fitzsimons (Wellington), Leo Buchanan (Wellington), Mary McLean (Rotorua), Alastair McLean (Rotorua), Teresa McMenamin (Rotorua), Clement LeLievre (Ngongotaha), Denise Aitken (Rotoura), Neil Paskitt (Rotorua), Sinead Donnelly (Wellington), Clare McKay (Wellington), Michael Dunn (Upper Hutt).

    NZHPA is generally seen as anti abortion.
    I notice they had then 6 GPs in Rotorua. Must be pretty hard to find a GP in Rotorua who can advise you on an abortion.
    And even the local hospital wont do them, so you are sent to Hamilton, or smaller towns like Thames or Tokoroa

  12. Craig Y 12

    Which leads one to wonder why certain quarters of the Labour Party still persist in hagiographies for Norm Kirk. The man was a hidebound social conservative when it came to abortion and homosexuality. Fortunately, in the case of gay rights, the damage was undone under Lange, but in the case of abortion, Kirk and Muldoon are both to blame for the ridiculously cumbersome Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act. It’s time that last foothold of seventies neanderthal authoritarianism was consigned to the history books.

  13. CEEJAY 13

    Why talk about it if you haven’t gone through the experience? And aren’t planning to? It shouldn’t be of any concern to you to be honest.

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