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Majority of Women Not Counselled Before Abortion

1 September 2008

Media Release – Majority of Canterbury Women Not Counselled Before an Abortion.

More than two thirds of the women who had an abortion at Lyndhurst and Christchurch Women’s Hospitals in 2006/2007 did not receive counselling at the hospitals before having an abortion.

The Canterbury District Health Board recently provided Right to Life with statistics under the Official Information Act, 1982. The Board advised that 2504 women had an abortion at their licensed facilities in the year ending 30 June 2007. Of this total only 705 women considering an abortion received counselling at their facilities. This is deplorable; these statistics reveal a human tragedy for vulnerable women and their unborn children. Women are the second victims of abortion, they are entitled to be fully informed of alternatives to abortion, the development of their unborn child and the potential physical and psychiatric complications that might result from having an abortion.

The Board claims that all women are offered pre-decision and abortion counselling. If this claim is correct why are the majority of women refusing counselling, is it that they have no confidence in the counselling and believe that the counselling is not genuine pregnancy counselling and is only directed at promoting abortion? The Auckland District Health Board advised Right to Life that it was their requirement that all women considering an abortion received counselling prior to an abortion at the Epsom Day abortion clinic. Why does the Canterbury District Health Board not follow the example of Auckland and make counselling mandatory?

The Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act, 1977 requires that counselling be offered to all women considering an abortion. Counselling is an important part of ensuring that women are fully informed. The Health and Disability Act 1994, Code of Health Rights includes the right of patients to be fully informed and to give informed consent. Women considering an abortion are entitled to know about the development of their unborn child, their options such as adoption and parenthood and the potential physical and psychiatric complications that may follow having an abortion. Right to Life has been informed by women who have received counselling at Lyndhurst that this information is not being provided; we believe that counselling is being used to facilitate an abortion.

Studies done in the USA reveal that 64% of women having an abortion are coerced into an abortion by others, family, friends and the threat of abandonment of the mother and rejection of her child by the father and physical abuse. If women are not counselled how can the Canterbury DHB know when women are being coerced into an abortion?

Right to Life believes that society has a duty to provide adequate and compassionate support for unwed and abandoned mothers facing unplanned pregnancies. Women should be given genuine pregnancy counselling and practical assistance to enable them to choose life for their innocent and defenceless unborn child, a choice that would spare them a lifetime of sorrow, regret and suffering. If this type of counselling were available it would result in a substantial reduction of abortions at Lyndhurst. Every abortion represents the failure of society to respond to the needs of a vulnerable woman and her unborn child.

Right to Life believes that the Code of Health Rights may have been breached by the consultants or by other responsible health care personnel involved in the process of providing an abortion at Lyndhurst and Christchurch Hospitals. A woman who believes that she was not fully informed before having an abortion may lay a complaint with the Complaints Review Tribunal. The Tribunal can award a wide range of remedies, including damages up to $200,000.


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