Personal beliefs ‘shouldn’t rob women of choice’, says Ardern on Roe v Wade

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NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ... "To see that principle [a women's right to choose] now lost in the United States feels like a loss for women everywhere." Image: Brandon Bell/RNZ

RNZ News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade “incredibly upsetting” as New Zealand politicians reacted to the controversial ruling.

Millions of American women have lost the constitutional right to abortion, after the 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision protecting the right to an abortion was overturned yesterday.

Ardern said in a statement that the decision was a loss for women everywhere.

“Watching the removal of a woman’s fundamental right to make decisions over their own body is incredibly upsetting,” she said.

“Here in New Zealand we recently legislated to decriminalise abortion and treat it as a health rather than criminal issue.

“That change was grounded in the fundamental belief that it’s a woman’s right to choose. People are absolutely entitled to have deeply held convictions on this issue. But those personal beliefs should never rob another from making their own decisions.

“To see that principle now lost in the United States feels like a loss for women everywhere.

‘We need progress … not move backwards’
“When there are so many issues to tackle, so many challenges that face woman and girls, we need progress, not to fight the same fights and move backwards.”

New Zealand decriminalised abortion in 2020.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon previously has said he is against abortion personally, but is not interested in changing New Zealand law.

In a statement last night, he reaffirmed that, saying that abortion laws “laws will not be relitigated or revisited under a future National government”.


Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta tweeted that it was “draconian” and does not support womens’ right to choose.

Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick blasted the decision, expressing “solidarity with Americans fighting for restoration of their rights to healthcare.”

ACT leader David Seymour said that “It may be that this is just returning the question to a state one, but half the states are going back a century in just a few days.”

Seymour, who supported New Zealand’s Abortion Legislation Bill to decriminalise abortion, said he was deeply concerned for the rights of American women and the future of US politics.

“I think that this will bring about a political earthquake in America. And this is a time when New Zealand really needs America to be focused on trade and security, rather than re-litigating battles of the 1950s.”

‘We cannot be complacent’
Green Party MP Jan Logie did not expect the decision would encourage people to push for changes to the abortion laws in New Zealand.

Logie said she was grateful New Zealand decriminalised abortion in 2020.

“We’ve seen a result of that an increasing number of New Zealanders who recognise the importance of reproductive justice. But this tells us also that we cannot be complacent.”

Logie said she feared the decision would increase the rate of unsafe abortions in the US.

Family Life International’s Michelle Kaufman said she wanted New Zealand’s abortion laws to change.

“I hope one day that we will see an end to abortion, that people will see that it’s the unthinkable choice, that there are better ways.”

Kaufman said abortion was violence and that it did not solve problems.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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