Image: Pro-choice protest in the United States / Lorie Shaull / Wikimedia Commons
To whom it may concern,
As students of Takapuna Grammar school, backed by Auckland’s youth community, we strongly believe that abortion needs to be decriminalised in New Zealand. In the previous election’s Labour Party campaign, Jacinda Ardern expressed that she wished to see abortion decriminalised, we are writing in the hope that she can follow through with this. As teenagers the stipulations under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion act make it especially difficult for us to access abortions safely and privately. These stipulations need to be abolished in order to make getting an abortion in New Zealand accessible and safe for everyone.
As you are likely aware, the process of a person receiving an abortion is costly and difficult. The person must go to a GP and two certified consultants and plead the case that continuing their pregnancy would cause serious danger to their physical or mental health, then it is up to the consultants to approve or deny the abortion. If they're lucky, the first two doctors they visit will both approve. If one of these consultants does not consent to the abortion the person will have to go to new doctors until they receive two approvals. With this many doctors appointments, the transport and time needed for an abortion can cost hundreds of dollars. These costs are realistically unaffordable for many people, especially teenagers. This makes having a discrete abortion almost impossible.
However, it really comes down to this: people have a right to bodily autonomy. Having to explain your possibly traumatic situation to a minimum of two doctors, only then to have them decide whether you can have an abortion is humiliating and it does not give the patient the right to choose what to do with their own body. The pregnant person knows what they want to do with their body, and how their life would be affected by carrying the child to term. Access to abortion should always be available as having to raise an unwanted baby could have detrimental effects on the life of the parent. A child should never have to be a punishment for their parents’ actions. They deserve to be wanted.
As teenagers, we are at a time in our lives where accidental pregnancies are a reality among our peers. We are hopeful that as we grow into this age, we could be comforted by the fact that if an unwanted pregnancy were to happen, we will not have to go through a traumatic and lengthy ordeal that may never come to fruition in order to terminate a pregnancy.
Repealing the outdated law that criminalises abortion will have many positive effects on New Zealand. It will reduce the stigma around abortion by making it safe and accessible to all citizens of New Zealand and set an example for the rest of the world. After all, everyone deserves the right to make decisions about their own bodies.
Signed by Youth For ChoiceSupport Villainesse