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New Zealand set to decriminalise abortion

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New Zealand is set to treat abortion as a health issue rather than a crime in a sweeping law reform announced on Monday.

Currently, abortion is a crime in New Zealand and can only be performed to save the life of the mother, or to preserve her physical or mental health. A procedure must be approved by two doctors or consultants.

The bill, which will have its first reading on Thursday, would remove requirements for statutory tests for a woman who is less than 20 weeks pregnant.

After that, a health practitioner will need to vouch that the abortion is needed.

"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.

"This bill will modernise the laws on abortion by removing it from the Crimes Act and bringing the law into line with many other developed countries."

"Safe abortion should be treated and regulated as a health issue - a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body," Little added.

The bill will now move to a select committee to hear the public's views. In parliament the bill will be treated as a conscience issue, meaning politicians can cast their votes independently of their parties.

© DPA 2019

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