New Zealand government plans to ease abortion restrictions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's government plans changes to the country's abortion laws by treating the procedure as a health issue rather than a crime.

While abortions have been available in New Zealand for decades, the procedure is still regulated under the Crimes Act which came into force in 1961. Critics say that presents unnecessary obstacles for women who are seeking abortions.

In order to get an abortion under the current law, women must be able to prove to their doctor that their pregnancy presents a danger to their physical or mental health.

The proposed new law would remove that requirement for women who are up to 20 weeks pregnant. For those more than 20 weeks pregnant, a doctor or health practitioner would still need to approve the procedure.