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Politicians debate whether to change ‘pregnant women’ to ‘pregnant people’ in abortion law to be more inclusive

Vic Parsons November 1, 2019

Stock photo of a pregnant man.

New Zealand politicians have been heatedly debating whether to change “pregnant women” to “pregnant people” as they consider changes to abortion law.

A parliamentary select committee has been hearing submissions on legislation that would allow for abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy without requiring a doctor’s note, remove abortion from the crime act and create safe zones around abortion clinics to keep protestors away.

The Abortion Legislation Bill currently uses “pregnant women” throughout.

But the select committee has heard from some people who think the language should be updated to “pregnant people”, given that trans men and some non-binary people get pregnant and give birth.

Green MP Jan Logie, a member of the committee, said they’d heard the suggestion from several people and she didn’t understand what the problem was with expanding the definition.

“We’ve heard quite compelling evidence from people in their own experience as trans people who have become pregnant… that language matters,” Logie said.

Jan Rivers, a self-identified “gender critical feminist”, said she doesn’t “believe in gender identity” and advised MP’s not to change the wording to “pregnant people”.

“If woman is replaced with person, to me that seems to be the thin-edge of the wedge of saying that we believe that people get pregnant, and not women, and therefore people who don’t believe in gender identity start to be castigated,” Rivers said.

Logie then pointed out that the Human Rights Commission already recognises the validity of gender diversity.

“What you’re asking us to do is run counter to the Human Rights Commission findings to marginalise a community and contest their existence,” Logie said.

Thought there’s not currently data available for New Zealand, last year in Australia 22 trans men are known to have given birth.

In August, the legislation passed its first vote. Changes to the bill are now being considered before it goes back to the New Zealand parliament for a second reading.

The select committee, which has publicly heard from more than 150 groups and individuals, is expected to report on its findings in February 2020.

More: abortion law, New Zealand, non-binary, pregnant trans men

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