Abortion Supervisory Committee

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The Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) oversees abortion law and practise in New Zealand. This includes licensing abortion businesses, and appointing certifying consultants. The committee consists of three members, two of which must be liscensed medical practioners. A chairperson is appointed from among these three. Appointments are initially for a period of three years. [1]


The Abortion Supervisory Committee has the responsibility of keeping under review all the provisions of the abortion law in New Zealand, and the operation and effect of those provisions in practice. This includes licensing institutions for the performance of abortions and appointment of certifying consultants to consider cases.

The committee consists of three members, two of whom are to be registered medical practitioners. One member is appointed as Chairperson.

The Committee reports annually to Parliament. This report contains a summary of the Committee's activities during the year, together with statistical information relating to the number of abortions performed in the previous calendar year. This statistical information is broken down into such categories as the age of women concerned and the grounds upon which the abortions have been authorised and provides the only reference to the absolute numbers of abortions authorised annually.[2]

Activist Nature

The Abortion Supervisory has recommended that the Government carry out a comprehensive review of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 and have called upon the Minister of Justice to accept Option 1 (decriminalization of abortion) as the basis for a review of the law. Option 1 is as follows:[3]

"Option 1 Remove abortion from the criminal code
Any review of the criminal code must remove abortion from the criminal code. The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (July 1996), which deals with issues of safety, quality care, privacy and informed choice, would protect the right of women seeking an abortion to be given accurate information to make an informed choice or give informed consent. This means that the decision to have an abortion could be made only by the woman and her own medical practitioner."


Current Members

The current members of the ASC are:[4]

Quality Improvement Unit

  • Peter Stone, Professor of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Auckland University - chair of the Quality Committee[6]
  • Ann Simmons - nursing/midwife advisor[6]

Technical Committee

In May 2003 the ASC appointed a technical committee to advise it on the use of mifepristone for medical abortion in New Zealand. The technical committee was asked to develop guidelines and report back within three months. Members & advisors of this sub-committee were:[7]

Past Members

Previous members:[8][9]


Standards of Care Document

In 2009 the ASC released a standards document for the provision of abortion services in New Zealand entitled "Standards of Care for Women Requesting Induced Abortion in New Zealand." Dr. Alison Knowles led the development of the document. The ASC also consulted with and received submissions from the following groups/individuals in drafting the document:[14]

Termination of twins

On 14 Feb, 2001 the Committee wrote to an abortion mill advising that in the case of the termination of twins, one ASC 4 form should be completed.[15]

2000/2001 Financial Review

In 29 May 2003 the Justice and Electoral Committee released the report on its financial review of the Abortion Supervisory Committee. The report stated that the review was an unproductive one:[3]

"The attitude of ASC members during the examination of the ASC was frustrating. Our 2000/01 financial review report notes: During our examination of the ASC, we expected the ASC to speak to its annual report for 2001. We found the ASC to be unhelpful in this regard, in that it repeatedly refused to take any ownership of the report."

External Links


  1. Abortion Supervisory Committee, Ministry of Justice (accessed on 1 May 2010)
  2. AMAT website: Abortion Supervisory Committee (accessed on 26 July, 2010)
  3. 3.0 3.1 2001/02 financial review of the Abortion Supervisory Committee (29 May 2003)
  4. NZ Herald: Murder of innocents behind closed doors by Garth George, 1 July, 2010. (accessed on 1 July, 2010)
  5. Right to Life press release: Habib, Appointed to Abortion Supervisory Committee, April 11, 2011 (accessed on 27 June, 2011)
  6. 6.0 6.1 ALRANZ website: November 2006 Newsletter
  7. Abortion.gen.nz: Guidelines for the Use of Mifepristone for Medical Abortion in New Zealand, 2003
  8. Beehive website: Notice of Motion – membership of the ASC, 14 June, 2007 (accessed on 1 July, 2010)
  9. ASC Minutes of Meeting, 7 Feb, 2000
  10. ALRANZ Press Release: ALRANZ: "Right To Life" And Their Media Release, 7 Nov., 2000 (accessed on 25 July, 2010)
  11. ASC Meeting Minutes, 16 July, 2001
  12. ASC Meeting Minutes, 21 Nov, 2001
  13. Letter from Rachael Cole, Secretary, ASC to Andy Moore, 1 July, 2010
  14. Report of the ASC 2009, Page 19
  15. ASC Meeting Minutes, 12 Feb, 2001