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Abortion Services have no place in law

Womens Health Action Trust

Media Release 10 June 2008

Abortion Services have no place in law

‘ Abortion is a health not a legal matter’ aid Jo Fitzpatrick, Director of Women’s Health Action Trust. ‘It is no surprise to us that it finds itself in a legal thicket. ‘

The idea that we have abortion on demand in New Zealand is ridiculous when the system requires women to see two certifying consultants before they have their ‘demand’ for an abortion ‘approved,’ In order to get to that point they have to see another medical practitioner for a referral and deal with any moral judgments they may have. By law, they also must be offered counseling.

Depending on where they live, women may then find that they have to travel long distances and organise to stay away from home because while DHBs are all obliged to provide access to services, many of these ‘contract out’ the actual service. And the DHB’s which provide the service are not obliged to offer the full range of legally available options. Very few offer medical abortions, which is popular and widely used in other countries. If women do not get through this process speedily, they find themselves with almost impossible hoops to jump through in order to get access to so-called ‘abortion-on-demand.’

‘It’s all very well for a judge, working at the request of Right to Life activist groups to pass judgement on the working of the law for women in New Zealand’, said Jo Fitzpatrick, Director of Women’s Health Action. ‘It is very different to be the women negotiating health services and legal requirements in order to make the decision. This is a decision which is never taken lightly and is every women’s right to exercise. ‘

Women’s Health Action accepts that the law is not perfect and we would welcome a revision which would bring it up to date. We would see this as moving to decriminalise abortion and improving access to services so that this difficult decision is easier and not harder for women. This is clearly not the intent of the Right to Life organisation.


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