Status of The Unborn Child Bill

The Status of the Unborn Child Bill (1983) was a New Zealand pro-life private members bill that was introduced into the New Zealand Parliament in 1983 by pro-life National MP Douglas Kidd, after Wall v Livingston had clarified that embryos and fetuses had no legal status in New Zealand, and thus, pro-life third parties could not interfere with abortion in New Zealand if performed under the terms of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977 (as amended 1978). Due to the efforts of pro-choice National MP and feminist Marilyn Waring, the bill was defeated.

In the late 1990s, the Status of the Unborn Child Bill was to return again, when Christchurch SPUC (now Right to Life New Zealand) disagreed with its parent organisation over the sidelining of this former legislative strategy, and resurrected it, ultimately splitting the New Zealand pro-life movement in 1999. Since then, RTLNZ has operated its own website and newsletter, Footprints.

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    What is clear is that Christianity directed increased attention to childhood. For the first time in history it seemed important to decide what the moral status of children was. In the midst of this sometimes excessive concern, a new sympathy for children was promoted. Sometimes this meant criticizing adults. . . . So far as parents were put on the defensive in this way, the beginning of the Christian era marks a revolution in the child’s status.
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