NZ parties slam US abortion ban - except National

National leader Christopher Luxon. Photo: Getty Images
National leader Christopher Luxon. Photo: Getty Images
National are the sole main New Zealand political party not to publicly denounce the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn a landmark abortion rights ruling.

The decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, which gave women the constitutional right to have an abortion during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, has stunned the world and is likely to fuel political divisions across America.

Anti-abortion groups have praised the decision and abortion-rights groups lamented the end of almost 50 years of reproductive rights.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the decision as "incredibly upsetting".

"People are absolutely entitled to have deeply held convictions on this issue. But those personal beliefs should never rob another from making their own decisions," she said in a statement.

"To see that principle now lost in the United States feels like a loss for women everywhere. When there are so many issues to tackle, so many challenges that face women and girls, we need progress, not to fight the same fights and move backwards."

In a one-line statement, National leader Christopher Luxon said abortion laws in New Zealand were settled in the last Parliament and won't be changing under a National government he leads.

Luxon, a Christian who has described himself as "pro-life", had no further comment beyond that also released by the party's caucus, his spokesman said.

In the statement, National's caucus described the US decision as "not a New Zealand issue".

"Roe v Wade is an issue for the American people who have a different set of constitutional arrangements than New Zealand. It is not a New Zealand issue."

They respected that among the public and within all political parties there was a range of views on "this sensitive issue", which was why abortion laws had always been a conscience vote in New Zealand's Parliament, the caucus said.

"New Zealand's abortion laws were debated in detail, voted on and ultimately settled in the last Parliament, and so these laws will not be relitigated or revisited under a future National government."

Parliament voted 68-51 two years ago to decriminalise abortion and allow women to choose a termination up to 20 weeks.

Before the law change two doctors were required to approve an abortion, and this could only happen if there was a "serious danger" to the woman's health.

However, an ambiguous Facebook post by National's Tamaki MP Simon O'Connor concerned some social media users this morning, who took the post to mean he supported the US Supreme Court's decision.

"Today is a good day," O'Connor wrote in a post on a background of floating love hearts.

O'Connor, who trained to become a Catholic priest but didn't seek ordination, couldn't be contacted to clarify his post. Luxon, through his spokesman, did not have an immediate comment to make on the post.

But O'Connor's comment, which sparked more than 360 responses, alarmed some.

"Actually it's not a good day in the US. And I would imagine I'm right in assuming that is what you're talking about. In your not very cute secretive way. #DogWhistle," wrote one.

Others supported what they also believed was a post referring to the US decision.

"It is a wonderful day. Thank you Lord and to all those mighty prayer warriors!" one wrote.

Today's decision was a reminder "we must taking nothing for granted in Aotearoa", Green Party MP Jan Logie said.

"Aotearoa should be a place where everyone ... can choose what is right for their body and their future.

"We cannot let the Supreme Court decision embolden those who do not share these values and want to limit access to abortion," Logie said.

The vote to decriminalise abortion was a step forward, but also "too close" to relax.

"We must remain alert to those who still want to control a person's right to choose.

"Abortion is a healthcare issue ... but it doesn't end there. For people to be able to make a genuine choice about whether to be or stay pregnant, we must also make sure they have everything they need to be able to provide for themselves and their families."

Act Party leader David Seymour said he was "flabbergasted" by today's decision.

"I feel for women in 20-odd states that have woken up today and lost the right to determine how they use their own body."

Half of US states, mostly in the south and midwest, are expected to ban abortion or impose heavy restrictions following today's decision.

Act was "strongly pro-choice", Seymour said.

"People can have whatever view they like on the morality of abortion but … having the apparatus of the state chasing pregnant women around trying to force them to take unwanted pregnancies to term is just a really counterproductive thing for a government to do."

He didn't fear for abortion rights in New Zealand - many who voted against decriminalisation have since left Parliament.

But the world's most powerful democracy would turn inward at the exact time it needed to be looking outwards, in relation to the economy, trade and security, Seymour said.

Impassioned opponents would enter politics to fight the decision.

"It's gonna have a serious effect on the mid-terms, that's for sure … I suspect the people who've supported this move probably don't quite understand what they've awakened."

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