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Pictures Family Planning Didn’t Want Women To See


4 October 1999

Graham Capill


In a controversial move, Graham Capill, the leader of the Christian Heritage Party, has shot another broadside across the bow of the Family Planning Association with the unveiling of a large billboard showing a 12 week old foetus in down-town Auckland.

This move is the latest in a series of forays by Christian Heritage in the battle over the Family Planning Association’s refusal to distribute the Ministry of Health’s publication Considering an Abortion? What are your options?

The stated objective of the booklet according to Wyatt Creech, the Minister of Health, was to ‘provide information on abortion to women at the earliest possible stage of their pregnancy’ in a manner and format that is ‘acceptable and easily understood by a wide range of users’. The Ministry was happy enough with the 18-page booklet to print up 25,000 copies.

In line with its contract with the Family Planning Association, which receives $5,639,903 per annum from the government, the Ministry of Health duly sent the Association 1500 booklets to be made available to pregnant women considering an abortion.

However, instead of distributing them to the public, the FPA promptly returned them to the Ministry.

Alongside the FPA’s claims that the use of words like legs, hands and toes in the booklet were inappropriate when talking about the development of the unborn child, they also claimed that the pictures of the developing foetus were emotive.

Capill stated that this was ‘ridiculous’ and that with the placement of the billboard, opposite the offices of TVNZ, “New Zealanders could judge for themselves if the photo is ‘emotive’.”

“This billboard picture and those in the booklet are no different from those that appear in the clinical texts that are the staple of medical books. That a foetus looks like this at 12 weeks and has hands, feet and even toes is not a matter of emotion but of scientific fact.

“The FPA needs to move out of the Dark Ages and realise that women have the right to all the information and not just what the narrow-minded staff within their Association’s head office think. Either the FPA takes its obligations seriously or the government should seriously consider cutting its funding.

“This billboard is about the Family Planning Association’s hypocrisy and about letting New Zealand women see for themselves what the Family Planning Association do not want them to see. The FPA appears determined to keep women in the dark and deprive them of all the facts. Instead they should be showing the pictures, empowering women to make informed decisions.

“When will the FPA take a more professional approach to their task, start dealing with the facts, and get on with fulfilling their obligations as a tax funded organisation? Instead of worrying about their reputation, possible funding cuts and threatening to sue anyone who threatens their philosophy, they should get on with the job of reducing this nation’s shamefully high abortion rate.”

“This current situation is a clear case of the tail wagging the dog,” stated an incredulous Mr Capill. “We, the tax payers, fund this organisation to the tune of at least five and a half million dollars a year and yet it remains determined not to circulate a booklet that could help lower abortion rates.”

“While the government is claiming that it wants to lower abortion rates the Family Planning Association rejects a useful tool for informing New Zealand women of their options. This booklet is an extremely useful tool 0and should be in the hands of all women considering an abortion, pictures and all.”

Whether this latest action could lead to the legal action with which he has been threatened so often by the FPA, Mr Capill remains unrepentant, although he would be concerned if such legal undertaking was funded out of taxpayer money.

“As if the FPA’s decision to side-step government policy is not bad enough, it may consider initiating legal action against me with taxpayers’ dollars; and in so doing the FPA could not only be guilty of failing to adequately meet its contractual obligations with the Health Funding Authority, but morally guilty of mishandling government funds,” he concluded.


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