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From From Crime to Care: the history of Abortion in Aotearoa New Zealand

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Felicity Goodyear-Smith
February 2023
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This book gives a chronological history of abortion in Aotearoa New Zealand from pre-European times to the present. It includes key events including legislative changes, anti-abortion protests, lobbying by various factions, development of funded abortion services for women throughout New Zealand, and recent advances such as the availability of medical abortions. Interwoven in the text are stories from a number of key informants, including those involved in lobbying for legislative change, and in setting up the first abortion service in New Zealand. On a broader perspective, the abortion struggle in New Zealand serves as an illustration of our changing political and social landscape, with a public move from conservative towards more liberal values. While this is similarly mirrored in our law reforms around homosexuality and euthanasia, these issues have not mobilised the pro- and anti-forces as vehemently as abortion has done. 2020 finally saw a change in the law with abortion regulated as a health care issue, not something requiring approval under the Crimes Act. Finally, after 180 years, abortion is considered to be a health rather than a criminal concern.