Still No Self-referral at Timaru Abortion Service

Over a year after the passage of the Abortion Legislation Act 2020 made it illegal to require people to have a doctor’s referral in order to receive abortion care, South Canterbury DHB’s Timaru service still does not allow pregnant people to self-refer.

Timaru’s breach is revealed on the Ministry of Health webpage for South Canterbury. The page says self-referral will be available ‘in future’, but is not available at present.

“It’s astonishing that the Ministry of Health appears to be OK with this. The law is quite clear. Section 13 of the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 reads, ‘A qualified health practitioner may not, as a condition of providing abortion services to a woman, require the woman to be referred from a health practitioner.’ And yet that is precisely what appears to be happening in Timaru,” said ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa President Terry Bellamak.

“A year is a long time to allow the South Canterbury DHB to do this wrong. How many people have been delayed or even prevented from accessing abortion care because the Ministry is not enforcing the law?

“This is different from starting up new abortion services for the West Coast or Whanganui, both of which still lack an abortion service at all. This is not a case of starting something new, but rather stopping doing something that is now against the law. How much infrastructure can be needed to stop doing something?

“Yes, the Ministry is busy, but Covid is not a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card.”

New Zealand reformed its abortion laws in March of 2020, decriminalising the procedure and aligning it with other health care.

Parliament is currently considering Louisa Wall’s member’s bill to establish safe areas around abortion services. ALRANZ supports safe areas.

Safe Areas Amendment Submission Party

Wellington Event Details


Sunday, 11 April 2021 from 14:00 to 17:00 
Price: free · Duration: 3 hr
Public 
Louisa Wall’s members bill provides a regulation-making power to set up safe areas around specific abortion facilities on a case-by-case basis. Submissions are open until 28 April.
Whether you have questions about the bill, haven’t made a submission before, need some accountability buddies, or just want to hang out with some fellow pro-choice advocates, join ALRANZ for a submission party at The Southern Cross.
Look for us in the booths at the back of the garden area. Friends, whanau, and kids all welcome.

50th Anniversary of ALRANZ’s 1st AGM

Today marks the 50th anniversary of ALRANZ’s first AGM on 17 March 1971.

2020 Senior New Zealander of the Year and former ALRANZ President Dame Margaret Sparrow reflected, “This day calls to mind how much has changed, and how long it took to change it.”

She continued, “This is a day to remember all the reproductive rights activists from the past who contributed so much to the cause of abortion law reform. Some are still alive, but some did not live to see change.”

Current ALRANZ President Terry Bellamak said, “Abortion is legal in New Zealand now. Our next challenge will be to ensure access to abortion and contraception is improved, so that all New Zealanders can control their own fertility and exercise bodily autonomy. As the UN Human Rights Committee has affirmed, abortion is a human right.”

New Zealand reformed its abortion laws in March of 2020, decriminalising the procedure and aligning it with other health care.

Parliament is currently considering Louisa Wall’s member’s bill to establish safe areas around abortion services. ALRANZ Supports safe areas.

ALRANZ Asks DIA Not to Fund Anti-Abortion Centres with COGS

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.