Once again the issue of abortion had reared it’s ugly head in which the protagonist factions waste their time trotting out the same old arguments to deaf ears.
Every time it arises it gives me a small flush of pride for it was the cause of the nicest compliment I’ve ever received. Here’s what happened.
Back in the mid-1970s the issue arose and took a bitter tone to an extent never since matched.
To calm emotions Prime Minister Rob Muldoon called for a Royal Commission into the issue, its panel of dignitaries headed by then Supreme Court Judge (as we then called High Court Judges) Duncan (later Sir Duncan) McMullin. The Commission duly presented their findings in late 1977.
I did not know McMullin thus a year later was surprised to receive a call from his secretary who said he would like to come and see me, why, she didn’t know.
So a couple of evenings later he came in, drinks were poured and pleasantries exchanged. “You will be wondering why I’m here”, Duncan said. He continued, “I wanted to personally tell you that for two years from one end of the country to the other I’ve listened to thousands of submissions on the issue but nothing I heard matches what you wrote in your book New Zealand the Way I Want It (this a play on the National Part’s 1975 election slogan, New Zealand the Way You Want It).
As I said, by far the nicest compliment I’ve ever received.
I reproduce the article here as nothing has changed.
Abortion is a complicated issue and, in my opinion, anyone who has an unshakeable opinion – whether for or against – hasn’t thought the issue through in any depth.
I think it should be de-politicised as much as possible and in the same way that a man cannot walk into a hospital and demand a triple bypass heart procedure, a woman should not be able to walk into a hospital and demand to have an abortion without appropriate medical assessment and oversight.
I would like to see in NZ that contraception and the so-called morning after pill (which can be effective up to 5 days afterwards) is widely available and that users are sufficiently instructed to use it effectively.
As the pregnancy advances, there would need to be a determination by medical professionals that significant harm to the mother would result from carrying the child to term.
I agree with Edmund Burke that as public policy it is a decision that is too important to be left to public opinion alone.
fredonas, Bob rightly points out that a newly conceived child is not the same as an organ such as a troublesome appendix. The morning after pill basically aborts a newly conceived child by preventing it’s successful implantation, so it isn’t any better than a later abortion from the baby’s point of view. Contraception is already widely available and govt funded. Hence why our natural increase is now a decrease, and our govt imports immigrants to cover the skill gaps which should have been filled by grown Kiwi children who were never conceived. Also the contraceptive mentality is closely linked to the abortive mentality of ‘If not convenient or wanted, then not at all’. Such terrible thinking is not helping our nation or the individuals facing hard decisions about crisis pregnancies.
The State cannot sustain a morality that differs from the majority of the population. There are many forms and qualities of life and the State cannot protect and maintain them all. Protecting the individual from the State is the goal of both sides of this dispute – but the form and quality of life of the individual to be protected differs greatly and it is idle presumption to give them both equal weight. I don’t have any difficulty with the proposition that the right person to be making an abortion decision is almost always the mother until the foetus is viable without her but with every effort to make that decision as early as possible in the pregnancy.
I have never believed Justice McMullin was the right person to head that Commission nor that his report was in the slightest balanced or judicial. (For those unaware, he recommended banning abortion from the moment of implantation and against allowing exceptions for rape and incest.) I think it can be safely consigned to the dustbin of history. There is of course no reason whatever why lawyers should be qualified or entitled to make these judgements ahead of anyone else and in fact politicians were forced to come up with their own solutions and compromises.