34. The Committee commends the State party for its advocacy on the protection of women’s sexual and reproductive health rights and prevention of maternal mortality. The Committee notes with concern, however, the convoluted abortion laws which require women to get certificates from two certified consultants before an abortion can be performed, thus making women dependent on the benevolent interpretation of a rule which nullifies their autonomy.

The Committee is also concerned that abortion remains criminalized in the State party, which leads women to seek illegal abortions, which are often unsafe. The Committee appreciates measures taken by the State party to improve mental health services for young women, but notes with concern the prevailing high level of suicide among young women, particularly minority and migrant youth. The Committee acknowledges the State party’s comprehensive health coverage and recent successful health education campaigns, such as the campaign to promote cervical cancer screening and good practice guidelines on health services for lesbian women and transgendered persons, but remains concerned about the access to and quality of these health services.

The Committee also remains concerned about inequalities in access to health care by minority women. In particular, the Committee is concerned about the high rates of teenage pregnancy among Māori women and the lack of access to effective age appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned about reports that some health practitioners perceive HIV testing of pregnant women as mandatory and are testing women without their consent.

35. The Committee urges the State party:

(e) To improve access and quality of health services for lesbian women and transgendered persons.

Link to full text of the report: Concluding Observations-CEDAW-New Zealand-2012-eng

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