N.Z. plans to ease abortion restrictions

Reuters WELLINGTON (Reuters) — New Zealand plans to decriminalize abortion and treat it is as a health issue, the government said Monday in the first major reform to abortion laws in more than four decades that some activists said fell short of expectations.

The legislation aims to modernize abortion laws in place since 1977 and proposes that a woman should have access to abortion until 20 weeks of pregnancy.

After 20 weeks, a pregnant woman would require one health practitioner to reasonably believe the abortion is appropriate with regard to the woman’s physical and mental health, and well-being, the government said in a statement.

“Abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand. It’s time for this to change,” Justice Minister Andrew Little said in a statement.

“Safe abortion should be treated and regulated as a health issue; a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body,” he added.

Currently abortion in New Zealand is an offense under the Crimes Act, and a woman can only legally get an abortion if two doctors certify that continuing the pregnancy would result in danger to her mental or physical health.Speech

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