New Zealand’s Parliament has passed a bill decriminalising abortion and allowing women to choose a termination up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy.
The Abortion Legislation Bill has passed its third reading in Parliament, meaning the procedure will now be removed from the Crimes Act.
The final bill passed on Wednesday evening, 18 March 2020, 68 votes to 51. The bill will now go to the Governor-General for the royal assent before becoming law.
Voting to remove the procedure from the country’s Crimes Act changes a law that has been in force since 1977.
Previously, two doctors were required to approve an abortion, which could only happen if there was a ‘serious danger’ to the pregnant woman’s health.
Abortions later than 20 weeks will need to meet a statutory test.
The legislative vote in parliament was labelled a ‘conscience issue’, meaning that MPs did not have to vote along party lines.
Earlier on Wednesday 18 March, MPs voted against putting abortion law changes to a public referendum, with MPs voting 19 in favour and 100 against.
The referendum was proposed by New Zealand First but was voted down by MPs during the committee stage of the Abortion Legislation Bill on Wednesday morning.
If a referendum had been included, it would have added to the referendum questions on recreational cannabis and euthanasia being put to New Zealanders at this year’s general election.