ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa has asked the Department of Internal Affairs (“DIA”) to take steps to ensure that anti-abortion ‘counselling’ centres that purport to provide pre- and post-abortion counselling do not receive COGS funding outside the rules for COGS grants.
RNZ reported in 2019 that over the years, more than $300,000 in COGS grants had been paid to 2 anti-abortion activist centres, Pregnancy Counselling Services and Crisis Pregnancy Support.
The report describes how people who attend these centres looking for unbiased counselling are pressured not to receive abortion care.
The published rules for COGS grants state:
COGS does not fund:
- services that duplicate existing services, unless the request demonstrates there is a good reason for both services to exist
Pre- and post-abortion ‘counselling’ provided by such centres duplicates services that the health system is required to provide under the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977.
In 2020, five Local Distribution Committees (“LDC”) distributed almost $10,000 to Pregnancy Counselling Services and Crisis Pregnancy Support. They are: Aoraki, Auckland, Kirikiriroa/Hamilton, Waikato South, and Wairarapa.
ALRANZ has written to each of these LDCs through the DIA, advising them of the anti-abortion bias of these centres, which may not be apparent from their applications for COGS funding. We call upon these LDCs to follow the COGS rules and not provide them with COGS funds.
New Zealand reformed its abortion laws in March of 2020, decriminalising the procedure and aligning it with other health care.