Monday, June 1, 2009

Pregnant Women Ordered Out Of New Zealand

Lincoln Tan has written an expose in today's New Zealand Herald in which he revealed that women on temporary visas are being forced into leaving New Zealand if they fall pregnant.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that New Zealand was a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) a United Nations Treaty based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

New Zealand is one of the few countries that didn't incorporate the ICCPR into law, instead it supposedly gave effect to many of the rights contained within it by passing the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in 1990.
A report by civil rights lawyers to the United Nations says New Zealand law allows significant human rights failings and breaches of international treaties,

The shadow report written by former Council for Civil Liberties chairman Tony Ellis and a team of lawyers was submitted to the United Nations.
It said New Zealand could do better in many areas of human rights law and that there were several deficiencies in respect of New Zealand’s international human rights obligations.
The Human Rights Act 1993 prohibits "discrimination due to pregnancy", but there is a specific provision to exempt immigration matters. But within the ICCPR are provisions for protection based on gender. If throwing out a woman because she's pregnant isn't a contravention of that what is - is the 1993 Act contrary to international conventions?

It's deplorable that New Zealand openly practices eugenics in its selection of 'suitable' migrants, e.g. families with children with Downs Syndrome or Autism, or overweight mums are refused entry, without victimising women for exercising their basic human right to have a child.

Some will say that these women are a burden to an already overstretched health service struggling by on very limited resources, but the sad fact is that even if they offer to pay for private obstetric care they are still shown the door.

New Zealand is very content to rake in billions of dollars from foreign students (international education is worth over $2.3 billion a year, making it the fifth largest earner) and will tax skilled migrants to the hilt but it puts up the shutters when asked to provide something in return. Perhaps some of those dollars should be put into improving the health service for all.

Much was made recently of New Zealand placed sixth in the 2009 Save the Children's annual Mothers' Index (perhaps to draw attention away from its rather shameful position of 30 out of 43 in the Children's Index) the abuse of pregnant women's rights has got to be reflected in next year's index if it is to be taken seriously

One of the women has taken her case to the NZ Human Rights Commission but looks like she stands little chance of getting a satisfactory outcome.

What next, pregnancy tests at the border before visas are issued and women terminating their pregnancies to remain in New Zealand?

I suspect that the latter is already happening.


  1. I have just been ordered to leave New Zealand due to my pregnancy. I have been in the country on a permanent positions for almost three years now. As a taxpayer I have gained the rights of a free health service and as a permanent employee I have gained the rights for maternity leave. My baby is due in the end of march 2010 and my visa was running out on the 9th of march, just 2-3 weeks before. I thought I would be correct and apply earlier so I wont have to stress out before the labour. Now I am hysterical having to leave by January 30th after my visa was actually shortened. I have not much to go back to at my home country as I have not been a taxpayer there for the past 3 years. It just feels so humiliating and unfair. I feel like I am being disposed and the taxes I payed would go for someone`s wellfare or some MP`s holiday. I am healthy intelligent woman that had chosen to settle in New Zealand together with my partner and just fell pregnant at the wrong time. My pregnancy is already getting complicated due to the stress. PLEASE HELP! Is there anyone I could address to?

  2. Sorry to hear that complications are setting in, this type of stress is the last thing you need right now.

    Unfortunately many pregnant women on temporary visas in New Zealand seemed to have been asked to leave. A few of them however have been allowed to stay and have their babies. You may wish to contact a licensed immigration adviser for advice on what to do. Good luck.

  3. Hi there, I really like your blog, may I ask though, is this a matter of the NZ Govt 'throwing out pregnant immigrants' willy nilly and with no concern for their health? If that is true I am as horrified as you are. I think if someone is here on a permanent visa and therefore paying tax they should have the right to public healthcare.

    However I don't think those on a temporary visa who become pregnant (through their own choice) should be allowed to stay indefinitely because they give birth to a NZ resident?

    Or are you saying that these women should be able to get NZ maternity care until they have their babies, and then leave when they are supposed to? If they have been paying taxes then it seems fair they should be able to have their babies here.

    I agree it is unfair to put heavily pregnant women on planes which could cause stress to the mother and unborn child.

    While not implying that every woman on a temporary visa is out to rort the system and gain permanent residency by having a child here, I think it does happen?

    I assume you don't think these women should just be able to stay because they have a baby? Is it not JUST as cruel to put a new mother and her small child on a plane?

    What is the answer?

  4. The first commentator seemed to be saying that she had been asked to leave NZ because she was pregnant, despite having paid taxes for the last 3 years. Her account seems to reinforce Lincon Tan's report that some pregnant women with temporary residency cannot have their babies in NZ.

    In our opinion making women leave and have their children outside of the country is a breach of their human rights because they are suffering "discrimination due to pregnancy" those with high risk pregnancies seem to have had their decisions reversed only after the media got hold of their stories.

    As far as we are aware the Citizenship Act was changed so that mothers on temp permits, or their NZ born babies, could no longer gain automatic permanent residency/citizenship in NZ.

    The answer? it may that the maternity service provision should be improved for everyone in NZ.


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