The Status of the Unborn Child Bill

In early 1983, SPUC's national executive were uncertain how the recent setbacks with the Courts could be remedied. Uncertain of how the situation exposed by Melvyn Wall's appeal to the courts could be remedied, they invited lawyer Des Dalgety, who was a SPUC member, to explore possible legislative avenues.

It was felt that changes in the 'Guardianship Act' and the 'Judicature Amendment Act' could meet the question of "standing" [an individual who is deemed to have a `sufficient interest' in the matter] and judicial review of consultant's decisions, but there was no certainty that these measures would limit the escalating number of abortions.

Des Dalgety concluded that the services of a retired parliamentary law draftsman should be sought. Ironically the man chosen, Nigel Jamieson, a lecturer in jurisprudence at Otago University, sympathised with the abortion movement although he personally found the debate boring and academic. He subsequently re-assessed the issue and advised SPUC that an entirely new approach was required.

By July the first draft of the Status of Unborn Children Bill was ready, the starting point being that it had been established beyond all reasonable doubt by modern science, that human life existed from the very start of pregnancy.

This was seen to lead logically to being able to establish the legal status of the 'unborn child.'