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Abortion Supervisory Committee – Appointments

29 April 2006

Media Release.

Abortion Supervisory Committee – Appointments.

Right to Life calls upon the government to replace the members of the Abortion Supervisory Committee because they have failed to fulfill their statutory duties as laid down in the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977. The present members of the Committee are Dr Lesley Rothwell and Dr Paparangi Reid. They were appointed by Parliament on 30th August 2001. Mrs Marlene Lamb resigned from the Committee in March 2005.

It is the declared intention of the government to nominate and support the renewed appointment of these two members by Parliament in the near future for a further term of three years. This is an unwarranted vote of confidence by the government in this failed Committee. During the term of this Committee it has presided in silence over the destruction of more than 88,000 unborn children. Right to Life contends that the Committee has failed to uphold the purposes of the CS&A Act proclaimed in the long title of the Act by failing to ensure that abortions are authorized only after full regard of the rights of unborn children. The first right is the right to life and the right to be born. The Committee has also failed to protect the health and welfare of women by ensuring that women considering an abortion are fully informed of alternatives to abortion such as adoption, the humanity of their unborn child and its development and the potential complications and damage to their physical and mental health resulting from abortion.

This is the Committee that recommended to the government in February 2000 that abortion be decriminalised and removed from the criminal code. It would then become a health issue with a decision to have an abortion being a decision between a woman and her doctor. This would mean that it was no longer a crime to kill an unborn child and the state would abdicate its responsibility to provide legal protection for the human rights of unborn children at any stage of pregnancy. This would be a serious violation of human rights. It is clear that the Committee is opposed to the legislation that it has been entrusted by Parliament to uphold. The Committee has a fundamental philosophical disagreement with the legislation in that it does not support legal protection for the human rights of unborn children. This is an intolerable situation; the Committee should resign or be replaced.

This is the Committee that is withholding important information on the potential damage to women’s health resulting from an abortion. The Canterbury Health and Development Study are conducting an important longitudinal study at the Christchurch School of Medicine. Professor Fergusson recently published the results of research that indicated that teenage women who had an abortion were twice as likely to suffer a major episode of depression, have suicidal thoughts, become alcoholic and become dependent on illicit drugs than women who did not have an abortion. This study has received international recognition.

Women considering an abortion have a legal right to be fully informed of the potential damage to their physical and mental health resulting from abortion. The Committee is responsible for the contents of abortion counseling.

In the interest of women’s health it would be reasonable to expect that the Committee would ensure that this information was made available to women considering an abortion. In December 05 Right to Life wrote to the Committee requesting that this information be given by abortion counsellors to women. The Committee replied in a letter dated 15th February 06. The Committee dismissed the study and stated; “The Committee does not consider that Professor Fergusson’s study establishes any casual link between abortion and mental illness.” The Committee refused to take any action to ensure abortion counsellors provide women considering an abortion with the results of this study. Professor Fergusson had advocated further extensive research into the link between abortion and mental ill health. The Committee refused to support any further extensive research into the link between abortion and mental health. This is an incredible response that should be of grave concern to every New Zealander.

It is shameful that the government supports the reappointment of this failed Committee. The government’s support for the members of this Committee is an endorsement of approval for the Committee. In the interests of the lives of unborn children and the health and welfare of their mothers the government should withdraw its support for the reappointment of this Committee. The government should nominate members who will uphold the law, stop the current unlawful regime of unlawful abortions, hold certifying consultants accountable for the lawfulness of the abortions they authorize and ensure that full regard is given to the human rights of helpless and defenceless unborn children.


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