The New Zealand House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation that will legalize abortion in the country for up to 20 weeks into pregnancy.
Known as the Abortion Legislation Bill, the law passed the House 68-51 in its third reading. The law passed its first reading in 2019 94-23 and its second reading in 2020 81-31. Now that it has been approved a third time, the bill will be brought to New Zealand’s governor general who will give the bill “royal assent,” essentially signing it into law.
Previously, abortion was technically outlawed in the country except if the pregnant woman’s health was seriously jeopardized. However, no woman has been prosecuted under the previous legislation, the New York Times reported.
The Abortion Legislation Bill legalizes abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy for any reason, while an abortion after 20 weeks can be approved by a woman’s physician “if the health practitioner reasonably believes that the abortion is clinically appropriate in the circumstances.”
MP Agnes Loheni, a member of New Zealand’s center-right National Party, called the bill an “attack on our own humanity.”
“It will allow for abortion up to the moment of birth,” Loheni said of the bill’s section allowing some abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy. “It is a broad, ill-defined, vague section with no regard to the unborn child.”
MP Greg O’Connor of the center-left Labour Party also dissented, saying the section of the law approving abortion after 20 weeks with consent of a pregnant woman’s physician was too vague.
Labour MP Amy Adams, one of the bill’s sponsors, hailed its passage.
“I will feel proud to have done my bit to stand up for the women of New Zealand,” Adams said.