Saturday, April 20, 2024

New abortion ‘safe areas’ mapped

New ‘Safe Areas’ will be in place around five abortion service providers from 5 October to protect the safety, wellbeing, privacy and dignity of people who are accessing or providing abortion services, the Ministry of Health announced today.

Safe Areas cover up to 150 metres around a premises where abortion services are provided. They prohibit certain behaviours that could be considered distressing to a person accessing or providing abortion services. 

The new Safe Areas are in addition to six others announced in July, which came into force in August. See the Safe Areas section for more information.

The law allowing for the creation of Safe Areas – the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Act (2022) – was passed in March 2022. 

The second five Safe Areas have been approved by Cabinet and published in the New Zealand Gazette.

Those five Safe Areas, which will be enforced from 5 October 2023, are: 

  • Thames Hospital
  • Te Aka Tauawhi Tangata – Women’s Clinic, Rotorua Hospital
  • The Terrace Clinic – Hawke’s Bay Hospital
  • The Women’s Clinic, Palmerston North
  • The Women’s Clinic, Invercargill.

Safe Areas are determined on a case-by-case basis and abortion services providers have to apply to have one created at their premises. Safe Area regulations can only be created by the Governor-General, by Order in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, in consultation with the Minister of Justice. This process may take up to nine months.

The Code of Health and Disability Consumers’ Rights outline the rights all people have when accessing a health service. This includes the rights to be treated with respect, freedom from discrimination, coercion, harassment and exploitation. 
The behaviours prohibited in a Safe Area are outlined in section 13A(1) of the Act. Examples of prohibited behaviour include:

  • blocking entrances to premises or preventing people from entering or leaving
  • photographing or videoing someone in a manner that is likely to cause emotional distress to someone accessing or providing abortion-related services
  • approaching a person to provide information about abortion services (unless part of the provision of services)
  • approaching a person to attempt to dissuade them from accessing these services
  • providing anti-abortion pamphlets or similar materials 
  • engaging in protest about matters relating to the provision of abortion services. 

New Zealand Police are primarily responsible for the enforcement of Safe Areas. A person convicted of engaging in prohibited behaviour within a Safe Area may be liable for a fine of up to $1,000.

To view maps showing each Safe Area see Safe Area locations.

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