A delicate topic . . . you need to know the law
The law governing reproductive rights and abortion is contained in the
CONTRACEPTION, STERILISATION AND ABORTION ACT 1977.
Local & Private Acts
Unless one of the other specified grounds apply (see below), a woman or girl is not entitled to an abortion unless two consultants certify that the pregnancy poses a serious danger to the woman or girl’s physical or mental health. In practice, this has proved to be NOT too difficult.
In assessing whether this serious danger exists, the consultants can take into account :
- whether the woman or girl is near the beginning or the end of the usual child-bearing years
- whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that the pregnancy is the result of sexual violation
An abortion can also be authorised if two consultants certify :
- that there is a substantial risk that the child would be seriously mentally or physically handicapped
- that the pregnancy is a result of incest
- that, in the case of a girl under 20, the pregnancy is the result of criminal sexual intercourse by a person who had the care and protection of the girl
- that the woman or girl is severely subnormal
In practice, it is not too difficult to find consultants who are sympathetic to the wishes of the mother although it must be accepted that in New Zealand we do not have the so called 'Abortion on Demand".
A pregnant woman has no legal obligation to obtain the father’s consent before obtaining an abortion. It is HER decision.
Similarly, a father has no legal right either to force a woman to have an abortion nor to prevent her from having one.
Because of the doctor/patient confidentiality relationship a doctor is not entitled to notify the father of a woman’s pregnancy without her consent.
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