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Shallow Collins "out of touch"

29 September, 2004

Shallow Collins "out of touch" with her own party and medical community

It is ironic for National's Judith Collins to say the Government is out of touch when her SOP to the Care of Children Bill has run foul of both her own caucus and New Zealand's medical fraternity, says Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says National's caucus rejected Ms Collins' SOP as a party issue and forced it to become a conscience vote. Ms Collins had initially indicated that National was supporting her SOP as a party vote until her caucus rallied against her and National's position had to be corrected by National Party whips.

"I understand there is a large faction within National who appreciate the complexity of these issues and who see Ms Collins' agenda as an attack on both vulnerable young women and medical ethics," says Mr Benson-Pope.

"It is extraordinary that National's health spokesperson has taken up a position attacking the professional judgement and clinical experience of this country's medical professionals."

Last week the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and the New Zealand Medical Association, between them representing some 5000 frontline health professionals, slammed Ms Collins' SOP saying it would increase the risk of a young women delaying seeking medical attention or even force them to seek dangerous back-street or self-induced abortions. Mr Benson-Pope says as a father of a teenage daughter he understood the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey that found a majority of parents would want to know if their daughter was seeking an abortion.

"Medical professionals actively encourage this and we know that almost all young women do involve their parents or other significant adults in their lives when it comes to these decisions. However, for some young women from violent, abusive and dysfunctional homes, informing their parents would put them in harms way.

"When you provide people with these facts, most agree that the law, which has worked well for almost 30 years, should not be changed. These are difficult issues. Ms Collins does no favours by trying to simplify them to sound bites and by telling half the story. The public can understand these issues when presented with all the facts," he said.

ENDS

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