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N.Z. communities encouraged to help improve Abortion Bill.

"Tell the committee how to improve this bill," encourages the Hon Aupito William Sio, who is the Minister for Pacific Peoples.

This was his plea during his speech in favour of the Abortion Legislation Bill  first reading last week, he encouraged the communities help better the proposed bill.

"I will vote in support of this bill at the first reading," he said.

"I ask all of our communities to take the opportunity to engage with the select committee in a respectful manner. 

"Tell the committee how we can help and support our women who have not been supported by their partners or families in their time of need with a pregnancy."

"Tell the committee how to improve this bill. Do you agree that we remove abortion being treated under the Crimes Act, as we've always done before, or do we want to treat the women who seek an abortion with love, care, and support?"

The Mangere representative relayed statistics to back up his vote in favour of the Abortion bill, which was passed with 94 votes to 23.

"In 1980, there were close to 6,000 abortions. It climbed and peaked in 2003 with more than 18,500 abortions, and then it declined until 2017. There were still 13,285 abortions carried out," said Hon. Aupito.

"The number of Pacific women that had an abortion in 2018 is 1,354. This has been declining steadily since 2009, when it peaked at 2,360 abortions.

"My position on this issue of abortion is a matter of public record. I do not support abortion, but I am on record that I recognise that a woman has a right to abortion, especially when she has to make a decision regarding a child conceived through sexual violence, rape, or incest, or the choice of life of the mother versus the life of an unborn child."

He admitted that the morals of abortion are too complex to debate in the political environment as everyone has different world views and experiences  saying he will leave the morality of the issue with families and our moral institutions to lead and promote the matter.  

"I am looking at abortion from the perspective of a father who does not support abortion. It is a father's perspective and that of a matai that presides over an extended family, who has love and compassion for his family," Hon. Aupito said.

"I want my daughters, my sisters—all the women in my extended family—to feel safe, to be supported. 

"I want them to aspire to uphold the value of life, but they should also know they have the freedom and my support to make those decisions about abortion freely, in accordance with their own conscience and their freedom of choice, knowing full well we are not perfect."

With the bill passing its first reading last Thursday night with three M.P.s not having their votes counted, the bill still has two more readings to complete before coming law.

This bill amends the law to decriminalize abortion, better align the regulation of abortion services with other health services, and modernize the legal framework for abortion already set out in the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilization, and Abortion Act 1977.

If the bill becomes law, it would allow pregnant people to "self-refer" for abortion within the first 20 weeks of gestation.

At the moment, those who seek an abortion requires certification from two consultants that having a child would damage their physical or mental health.

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