New Zealand’s government recently passed a bill decriminalising abortion. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, claimed that “it’s a health issue, not a criminal one”. The bill passed its third reading 68 to 51. The bill allows abortions up to twenty weeks into a pregnancy. Previously, getting an abortion required authorisation from two doctors on the grounds that the pregnancy would either cause serious physical or mental harm to the mother or the child (in cases of serious deformity, incest, etc.) and was therefore acceptable to be aborted. Although this method was easily manipulated and did not stop healthy individuals from getting abortions, even this will no longer be the case now because women will be able to refer themselves for abortions without the approval of two medical doctors.
New Zealand First attempted to amend the bill through referenda, but it was voted down 19 to 100. There will be referenda on legalising cannabis use and legalising euthanasia, but not on abortion. Apparently, parliament deems these to be more pressing and controversial issues than that of the life of a baby inside its mother. This is hard to rationalise given that euthanasia registers on a similar ethical scale to abortion in terms of moral quandaries. Along with both cannabis and euthanasia, abortion has attached to it considerable weight and should retain the weight of plebiscite for approval.
It is likely that the reason the bill wasn’t considered valid for a referendum is that most of the parliament treated the issue as a women’s rights cause rather than something much grander in scale. The consideration was framed in such a way that it was suggested that women should have easier access to abortion and not whether abortion was justified and/or morally questionable in the first place. Labour MP Kieran McAnulty said, “Who am I to push my personal views and my circumstances onto a woman?” (Stuff) after explaining he was a catholic who likely would have been aborted if this legislation existed when he was conceived. Well, McAnulty, you could ask yourself the same question of a baby growing inside a woman, but you’ve neglected to do so. Aside from this obvious hypocrisy that occurs in every debate on abortion, it is clear to see that McAnulty and others have personal and political interests at stake on the topic.
National MP Amy Adams took an even harder approach with this rhetoric. Adams said, “I also understand the role of doctors in this. Doctors are not mindless automatons who’d go along with anything. Doctors have to satisfy their own conscience, their ethics, their professional obligations, and their Hippocratic oath. They make these decisions very carefully, and only when they’re appropriate clinically and ethically. This House doesn’t belong in those decisions. We don’t do it for any other medical decision. We shouldn’t do it to express control over women’s reproductive rights” (Spinoff). The idea that killing your own unborn child is an inherent right of all women is abhorrent. The view that the transient whims of a woman are more important than the life of her (along with the father’s) own baby is, in our view, the pinnacle of solipsism and is a wholly unsavoury perspective for an individual to have. The fact that the politicians are ignoring this glaringly obvious moral issue that stems to a society-wide problem emphasises just how dishonest and lacking the entire debate is.
For there to be an adequate debate on this topic the table must be opened up to questions of moral legitimacy and, with that, the effect that such leaps have on entire societies. Societies which normalise a particular kind of act implicitly condone those things which lead to that act occurring. In the case of abortion, this will aid the alleviation of consequences for those contemplating participating in unprotected sex with someone whom they do not wish to have a child yet do not wish to use contraception with. Of course, this attitude will lead to further consequences such as sexually transmitted infections and diseases that already plague New Zealand society. One could say, then, that it is an attitude of self-destructive disregard for anyone but the self that pervades New Zealand society. This attitude is only encouraged by the increased availability of abortions for those that treat themselves, their babies and others like mere pieces of meat to be used and discarded.
As a people, New Zealanders must begin to perceive their existence to be a part of something greater, and not simply ego-based, individual existence. There is no individual without the group. Every individual must take action to support the group, and treating ourselves and others as if they are disposable products to be used for transient pleasure is not supportive by any stretch of the imagination. Take action and play your part in creating a healthier and stronger nation.