New Zealand introduces bill to legalize abortion

Justice Minister Andrew Little introduced the bill to reclassify abortion.

(CNN)New Zealand's justice minister, Andrew Little, introduced a bill on Monday aimed at legalizing abortion in the country.

The new bill would change the status of abortion from a criminal issue to a health issue, according to a statement from Little. Such a move would dramatically increase access to abortions, which are currently only legal in New Zealand in cases of fetal abnormality, incest or if the mother's health is at risk.
"Safe abortion should be treated and regulated as a health issue; a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body," Little said in the statement.
Under the terms of the bill, which will have its first reading in parliament on Thursday, women less than 20 weeks pregnant will be able to obtain an abortion without getting prior approval from a doctor, by self-referring directly to an abortion provider.
    Women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant would still need to consult a doctor, who would have to deem an abortion appropriate for the woman's physical and mental health, Reuters reported.