Previously, abortion was technically outlawed in the country except if the pregnant woman’s health was seriously jeopardised. However, no woman has been prosecuted under the previous legislation, the New York Times reported.
The Abortion Legislation Bill legalises abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy for any reason, while an abortion after 20 weeks can be approved by a woman’s physician “if the health practitioner reasonably believes that the abortion is clinically appropriate in the circumstances.”
MP Agnes Loheni, a member of New Zealand’s National Party, called the bill an “attack on our own humanity.”
“It will allow for abortion up to the moment of birth,” Loheni said of the bill’s section allowing some abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy. “It is a broad, ill-defined, vague section with no regard to the unborn child.”
MP Greg O’Connor of the center-left Labour Party also dissented, saying the section of the law approving abortion after 20 weeks with consent of a pregnant woman’s physician was too vague.
The bill passed on its third reading by 68 votes to 51.
An earlier plan to put the issue to a public referendum was abandoned during the proceedings.