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New Zealand: MP introduces legislation to create ‘censorship zones’ around abortion clinics

A New Zealand MP is seeking to introduce censorship zones of 150 metres surrounding abortion clinics in the country.

Labour MP, Louisa Wall, has put forward legislation that is expected to be debated this week, which would prevent people from offering help and practical alternatives to abortion outside abortion clinics. 

Wall said: “What [this Bill] does is provide for the establishment of 150 metre safe zones around abortion facilities – the rationale for it is to protect the safety and wellbeing and protect the privacy and dignity of patients and practitioners”.

The Bill will go to a conscience vote, which means that MPs do not have to vote along party lines.

Leader of the ACT Party, David Seymour, has expressed concern about the use of the term “communicate” within the Bill. The Bill would make it illegal to communicate with a person in a censorship zone “in a manner that an ordinary reasonable person would know would cause emotional distress to a protected person”.

Seymour said: “We object to the [word] communicate”.

“Once you give a Minister the ability to put restrictions on communication, you’re going down a very dark route”.

Another attempt to introduce censorship zones

Pro-abortion MPs in New Zealand had sought to introduce criminalised free speech zones when they initially voted in an extreme abortion regime in the country last year.

However, they accidentally allowed an amendment preventing the establishment of “buffer zones” to pass unchallenged and without a vote.

The Green Party failed in its attempt to reverse a mistake that resulted in criminalised free speech zones, which prevent pro-life help from being offered outside abortion clinics, being excluded from the legislation.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson had attempted to reverse their mistake and reintroduce the measure, but MPs voted 77 to 43 against it.

The new bill is expected to receive a First Reading this week before needing to pass a number of other stages before it becomes law.

Censorship zones in the UK

There have been multiple attempts to introduce similar censorship zones outside abortion clinics in the UK too. Earlier this month, councillors in Scotland decided to back a campaign seeking to introduce censorship legislation around an abortion clinic in the capital.

In England and Wales, a bill to introduce censorship zones, which was brought forward by Rupa Huq MP, failed to pass through the Commons at its Second Reading in September.

In 2018, Sajid Javid announced that the Home Office could not find adequate reason to introduce censorship zones, stating: “[…] introducing national buffer zones would not be a proportionate response, considering the experiences of the majority of hospitals and clinics, and considering that the majority of activities are more passive in nature. In making my decision, I am also aware that legislation already exists to restrict protest activities that cause harm to others”.

Opposition to censorship zones

Opposition to censorship zones extends beyond pro-life advocates to unite a large part of society, that may not agree with the pro-life position on abortion but opposes censorship zones as a threat to freedom of speech.

Despite supporting abortion, a number of prominent human rights groups and campaigners have spoken out against the introduction of censorship zones. This includes Peter Tatchell, the Manifesto Club, Big Brother Watch, Index on Censorship and the Freedom Association.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “New Zealand, like the UK, already has laws prohibiting intimidation and harassment. If this sort of behaviour takes place outside abortion clinics, or indeed anywhere else, the accused party could, and should, be fully investigated, and convicted if found guilty, under the law as it currently exists. This law essentially criminalises speaking with people about abortion outside abortion clinics. It would be an instance of the state determining criminalising not only free expression but also offers of assistance”.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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