27 October 2021
Midwives Challenging Legality of Vaccination Order
Late on Friday 22 October 2021, the Minister of COVID-19 Response issued an order which amended the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021. That order was purportedly made under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020. It now specifies that, unless midwives submit to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination by 15 November 2021, they will lose their livelihoods and their vocation.
The order now applies to most workers in the health and disability sector, as well as prisons, schools and early childhood services.
The New Zealand Midwives’ Collective is a group of midwives from around New Zealand who have come together to oppose mandatory vaccination and uphold the right to informed choice and consent. On Monday a small group of midwives filed an application on behalf of the Collective, asking the High Court to declare the vaccination order invalid.
The basis for this challenge is that midwives, like all New Zealanders, have a right guaranteed under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 to refuse medical treatment that they do not want, whether or not anyone else agrees with their reasons for doing so. It is about the personal autonomy that we all enjoy over our bodies. If the Government wants to limit that right, it cannot do that in a regulation made under the authority of a general provision in a statute. On at least two occasions this year alone, the Supreme Court has held that “Parliament cannot abridge fundamental rights and freedoms by general or ambiguous words”. That is what has been done here and it is an affront to New Zealand’s constitutional norms.