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MPs switch votes on abortion law

Amendments pass to give women more control

Sweeping reform of abortion law passed despite a dozen MPs switching their votes for the third and final reading this week.

The Abortion Legislation Bill passed on Wednesday by 68 votes to 51, a margin much narrower than in the first and second readings.

That was partly because NZ First MPs had previously voted in favour of the bill when a referendum on the issue was still possible.

A referendum amendment was voted down this week, and NZ First MPs Darroch Ball, Shane Jones, Ron Mark, Clayton Mitchell, Mark Patterson, Winston Peters and Fletcher Tabuteau changed their votes to oppose the bill at the third reading.

National MPs Andrew Bayly, Matt King, Ian McKelvie, Tim van de Molen and Hamish Walker also changed their positions to oppose it.

National MP Stuart Smith voted "yes" in the second reading but did not vote in the third reading.

NZ First MPs Jenny Marcroft and Tracey Martin supported the bill, but Martin had to vote via proxy as she was at home in self-isolation.

She had spoken during the bill's first reading about a personal story she had wanted to share, about Beverley Williams, Martin's mother's birth mother. "She wasn't a perfect person. She abandoned her children when my mum was about 2," Martin told the Herald.

"We never met Beverley, and we didn't know what it happened to her until we went and found Beverley's grave.

"Just before her 30th birthday, she had a backstreet abortion down in Christchurch and died of toxaemia [blood poisoning by toxins]. And her older sister, Eunice, had died the year before from exactly the same thing." She said that Beverley's fate was one of the reasons she supported the bill.

"My mum didn't have a mum because Beverly had to do what she needed to do on her own.

"All the statements about abortion being a lifestyle choice, well, women have died for years and years because their lives aren't perfect and they weren't able to bring that child into the world." Martin said Beverley's story was uncovered after her sister had traced the family history and found one of Beverley's former co-workers.

"We started to find people who were still alive who had known her after she abandoned her kids." They found Beverley's and Eunice's unmarked graves in Christchurch, and put headstones on them.

Martin said she watched the progress of the abortion bill from her selfisolation at home.

"Jenny Marcroft knew I was watching, so every now and then she'd stand in front of the camera over the door and give me a thumbs up, and then she'd go and vote.

"I don't know whether I would have given a speech. I didn't realise until the first reading how emotional I was about this particular topic. I hate getting emotional." She said if she had spoken, she would have acknowledged her caucus for allowing its MPs to give conscience votes.

"I would also have said how tired I am of men standing up and giving speeches saying, 'I absolutely believe that women should have choice, I absolutely believe that women should be trusted " but'.

"Everything before the 'but' is BS." What the bill changes Currently, women need clearance from two doctors on grounds of mental or physical risk from day one to get an abortion. After 20 weeks an abortion currently needs to save the life of the woman.

The new law will mean there will be no legal test for earlier than 20 weeks. Any later and the medical practitioner performing the procedure will have to believe the abortion is clinically appropriate, having consulted at least one more qualified health practitioner.

Medical practitioners who don't comply would face consequences from their medical bodies, rather than under the Crimes Act.

It will still be illegal for an unqualified person to try to perform an abortion and causing the death of an unborn child by harming a pregnant woman would remain an offence.

HOW THEY VOTED Yes Amy Adams Kiri Allan Ginny Andersen Jacinda Ardern David Bennett Paula Bennett Dan Bidois Chris Bishop David Carter David Clark Tamati Coffey Judith Collins Liz Craig Clare Curran Marama Davidson Kelvin Davis Matt Doocey Ruth Dyson Paul Eagle Kris Faafoi Andrew Falloon Julie Anne Genter Golriz Ghahraman Peeni Henare Chris Hipkins Brett Hudson Gareth Hughes Raymond Huo Willie Jackson Nikki Kaye Barbara Kuriger Iain Lees-Galloway Andrew Little Jan Logie Marja Lubeck Jo Luxton Trevor Mallard Jenny Marcroft Tracey Martin Kieran McAnulty Mark Mitchell Stuart Nash David Parker Willow Jean Prime Priyanca Radhakrishnan Grant Robertson Jami Lee Ross Deborah Russell Eugenie Sage Carmel Sepuloni David Seymour James Shaw Scott Simpson Erica Stanford Chloe Swarbrick Jan Tinetti Anne Tolley Phil Twyford Aupito William Sio Nicky Wagner Louisa Wall Angie Warren-Clark Duncan Webb Poto Williams Nicola Willis Michael Wood Megan Woods Jian Yang NO Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi Darroch Ball Maggie Barry Andrew Bayly Simon Bridges Simeon Brown Gerry Brownlee Jacqui Dean Sarah Dowie Paulo Garcia Paul Goldsmith Nathan Guy Jo Hayes Harete Hipango Shane Jones Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki Matt King Denise Lee Melissa Lee Agnes Loheni Tim Macindoe Nanaia Mahuta Ron Mark Todd McClay Ian McKelvie Clayton Mitchell Todd Muller Alfred Ngaro Damien O'Connor Greg O'Connor Simon O'Connor Parmjeet Parmar Mark Patterson Chris Penk Winston Peters Maureen Pugh Shane Reti Adrian Rurawhe Jenny Salesa Alastair Scott Nick Smith Jamie Strange Rino Tirikatene Louise Upston Fletcher Tabuteau Tim van de Molen Hamish Walker Meka Whaitiri Michael Woodhouse Jonathan Young Lawrence Yule

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