Thousands of women across New Zealand have marched to urge parliament to remove abortion from the Crimes Act.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern believes the time for law reform has arrived, following a parliamentary report recommending abortion services be provided in New Zealand like other health services.
"The time is absolutely now," Ms Ardern said.
The committee's report - which drew more than 25,000 submissions - prompted women's rights supporters to return to the streets in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin as part of organised rallies.
While making the case for decriminalisation, Kiwi women have shared stories about the difficulty of accessing abortions.
That includes navigating protesters outside medical clinics and ongoing referrals from doctors who may not wish to provide the service.
"There's a totally unacceptable delay in women accessing abortion services," Abortion Legislation Committee chair, and Labour MP, Ruth Dyson told AAP.
"I thought access to services was limited (just) in rural areas but what we heard in the select committee is that women were waiting weeks. Some people had to see nine different health practitioners. It's crazy.
"And it's expensive. Time delays can then require more serious intervention; surgical procedures rather than medical. None of it makes sense."
The financial cost is usually coupled with challenging personal circumstances and societal stigma.
Rally organiser Jessie Dennis, from Fem Force-Feminist Action Aotearoa, said the bill didn't give advocates everything they wanted.
Ms Dennis said she supported the right of doctors to opt out of providing abortion services or referrals for personal reasons but women had the right to know whether their health professionals would object.
"As the bill currently stands, health practitioners can still not give reproductive health care. They can object," she said.
"That includes objecting to emergency contraception in cases of sexual violence.
"We think there should be a register where health care providers should have to list whether they are providers so people don't waste their time and money ... and be subjected to a moral lecture."
Presently, New Zealand law asks doctors and patients to perform a charade to gain an abortion.
Two referring doctors must agree - in the absence of severe physical or mental handicap to mother or child, or incest - that "continuing the pregnancy would result in serious danger to the woman's life, or to the woman's physical or mental health".
Terry Bellamak, president of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand, says the current regime "forced women to lie".
"Ninety-eight per cent of abortions are granted under mental health grounds," she said.
"This is ridiculous and it's been going on for so long."
New Zealand legislators voted by a huge majority - 93 to 24 - to pass the bill on its first reading.
That included a number of MPs who are expected to vote against the reform who wanted to see it go to committee.
The most senior women in every party support the bill.
National deputy leader Paula Bennett argued stopping the procedure was impossible, and so it is up to parliament to make it safe.
"So if the most right-wing, conservative, doesn't agree ... (abortions) would still be happening illegally. And we would be going through what we've seen in past decades, some of the most horrific health treatment," she said.
Labour, National and Greens MPs have been granted a conscience vote, with all eight Greens MPs signalling their support.
The nine New Zealand First MPs could abstain if the issue isn't sent to a referendum - as will be the case with cannabis and euthanasia measures alongside this year's election on September 19.
That could deliver a tight result, although Ms Ardern is confident.
Ms Ardern, who said during the first reading debate it was time "to finally put women's dignity and their rights at the centre of this discussion", sees the bill passing after the committee's report.
"There will be people on both sides of the argument, who won't be 100 per cent happy with the final version of the bill," she said.
"But it is a huge improvement on what we have had in the past and so I do think that will garner the majority support of this house."
Australian Associated Press
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