Between Reproductive Choice and Sex Selection in New Zealand's Abortion Reforms

Teal graphic featuring a photo of Dr. Rachel Simon-Kumar, with short dark hair and a red blazer standing in front of greenery on the left. On the right is peach text that reads, 'Dr. Rachel Simon-Kumar'.

Between Reproductive Choice and Sex Selection in New Zealand's Abortion Reforms: The Dilemma of Agency for Ethnic Minority Communities

Public Lecture
Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023
Humanities 354

In March 2020, the New Zealand Parliament voted in favor of decriminalizing abortion. Impassioned speeches during the parliamentary debates, both for and against abortion, centered on sex selection directly drawing attention to practices associated with Asian and ethnic minority population groups. Indeed, New Zealand’s abortion law reforms raise thorny questions about women’s reproductive rights and autonomy. Based on interviews conducted with health care and abortion practitioners, this presentation highlights strains in framings of ‘reproductive choice’ and ‘gender equality’ for ethnic minority women. Overall, the paper argues that concerns of sex selection in NZ’s abortion reforms have politicized Asian and ethnic women’s bodies and must be viewed against wider societal transitions in diversity and inclusion.

This presentation is part of the ‘Missing Women’ among Asian and Ethnic Communities in New Zealand research study.


About the Speaker

Dr. Rachel Simon-Kumar is an Associate Professor and co-Director, Centre for Asian and Ethnic Minority Health Research and Evaluation (CAHRE), School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland/Waipapa Taumata Rau, Auckland/Tāmaki Makarau, New Zealand/Aotearoa.

Simon-Kumar has published widely on gender, migration and multiculturalism, racism, politics, and health including in the Lancet, Global Public Health, and Social Science and Medicine.



This event is co-sponsored by Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Institute for Research on Women, the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, the Department of Sociology, the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society, the University at Albany Maternal and Child Health Program, the Center for Global Health, and the Institute for Social and Health Equity.