Jacinda Ardern has said Labour will decriminalise abortion in New Zealand if it wins this month’s general election.
In a fiery 90-minute televised leaders’ debate on Monday night in Auckland, Ardern stated unequivocally that abortion “shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act”. Her stance was met with a round of applause and cheering from the 400-strong studio audience of undecided voters.
“People need to be able to make their own decisions,” said Ardern. “I accept there will be people out there who will disagree with abortion, and I want them to have that as their right, but I also want women who want access to have it as their right too. This is about everyone being able to make their own decision.”
Prime minister and National leader Bill English, who is a practising Catholic, said he thought the status quo was “broadly satisfactory”.
“If the changes came before parliament I would be opposed to liberalising the law,” said English, to silence from the audience. “I support the current law and I would not set out to change it.