Saturday, March 11, 2006

Just in case you thought it was safe to be a woman

Abortion has been in the news again here. Staff at the Waitemata District Health Board refuse to do late second trimester abortions on mental health grounds, so the District Health Board is subsidising women who are going to Australia to have the procedure done there.

Of course there are a number of issues here, first of all that staff can say "I'll do an abortion if there's signs of fetal abnormality, but not under other grounds, because the woman should just suck it up and go through pregnancy." I actually don't think that's compatible with the law, which allows people to refuse to perform abortions on 'moral' grounds. I don't see that sort of judgement as a moral one (of course I think that if you don't want anything to do with abortions you should choose a speciality like geriatric care, if your morals interfere with your job choose a new job).

But it has also really drawn attention to how patchy New Zealand's abortion provision is, among the different District Health Boards (This website has information about access in the different DHBs - although it is funded by the drug company which makes the abortion drugs). Almost all the abortions in the South Island are done in Christchurch (which in a way is a good thing because in Dunedin you have to go to the clinic four times, and in Ashburton you have to wait 1-2 weeks for an appointment). In Taranaki abortions are usually performed under general anesthetic (to give them a greater opportunity to kill the woman involved, I guess).

It doesn't have to be like this, first trimester abortions is the safest procedure that is only done in hospitals. There's no reason why first trimester abortions couldn't be performed in your home.

Finally Family Planning pissed me right off in the interview with National Radio:

I think the whole area of abortion is a sensitive and contentious issue, and as I say the real answer is to say 'why is it occurring?' lets invest in health promotion and prevention to make sure that women don't have unplanned pregnancy.
She went to say that if people are objecting to late stage abortions then it shows that late stage abortions are happening too often, and effort needs to be put into prevention.

She can go complain about women's choices with her fellow Labour Party candidate George Hawkins.

I'm more and more convinced that the rest of us need to do something.

This post was also posted at Alas

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