Capital politics

The 1974 Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child's national conference was held in Wellington. Sir William Liley retired as national president and was replaced by Dr Diana Mason (wife of the playwright Bruce Mason). The national headquarters moved to Wellington. Diana Mason was later succeeded by top Wellington lawyer, Des Dalgety, who brought formidable legal and political skills to the movement.

Also at this conference, Mrs Ruth Kirk, wife of the Prime Minister (Norman Kirk), was elected third national patron. Mrs Kirk's patronage caused great public controversy, and while the right to have her personal views was respected, members of the Labour Party and various women's groups deplored the political implications of her accepting this position. By this time SPUC was claiming a total membership of about 40,000 members.

1974 saw the Aotea abortion clinic open, the Wall Bill was introduced to Parliament and Prime Minister Norman Kirk (a strong pro-life supporter) died.

The Wall Bill had only two clauses:
  • the first would restrict abortions to public hospitals, where there could be a greater level of public scrutiny, and
  • the second would ensure that doctors who were blatantly in favour of abortion could be kept out of the decision-making process.
The SPUC campaign in 1975 began with a national petition to Parliament signed by 113,381 New Zealanders. A large rally at the Auckland YMCA stadium was addressed by abortion opponents Dr Carolyn Gerster from the USA and Winifred Egan from Australia.