95% of submitters to select committee being muzzled on abortion

Editor’s note. The following comes from Family First New Zealand.

Family First NZ says that the Select Committee considering radical changes to our abortion laws has admitted that it’s muzzling almost 95% of submitters who want to speak in person to the committee on the issue. [The committee will be hearing 150 submissions orally, out of 2,890 who asked to speak.]

“This means that more than 2,700 submitters from both sides of the debate are being denied the ability to engage with the politicians about this controversial bill,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Either the committee is in a rush to ram this legislation through, or they just don’t want to respect the rights of submitters to be heard in person by the committee. We suspect it’s both reasons/”

McCoskrie added, “No other issue quite cuts to the heart of our humanity and life than the issue of abortion – and that is why there has been a strong reaction with more than 25,000 written submissions in the extremely short timeframe of six weeks. This is a significant piece of legislation involving life, death and human rights of our most vulnerable.”

McCoskrie noted, “Family First has been contacted by lawyers, pregnancy counsellors and organisations, medical professionals including midwives, bioethics experts, national organisations, and women & families with powerful experiences – even a woman conceived as a result of rape – that have been denied the right to speak to and clarify points made in their submission.”

In contrast, the committee considering the euthanasia bill heard 1,350 oral submissions over 16 months.

Family First New Zealand concluded

“The committee has also said that they are ‘focusing on submissions that will most help it consider what, if any, changes should be recommended to the bill.’ This would indicate that the general intent of the legislation has already been accepted. That is a shocking abuse of the process and debate.”…

“The Select Committee should take time to fully consider the ramifications of liberalising the law, and should travel the country and hear as many oral submissions as reasonably possible. If that means requesting further time to present the report back to Parliament, so be it.”

“Significant consideration and extreme caution should be given to the bill – because if we get this wrong, there are deadly consequences. The select committee risks rushing the process purely for political convenience and ignoring the important human rights ramifications.”

“All New Zealanders – from both sides – should be respected and listened to on this issue.”