Anti-choicers and Their Ridiculous Narratives

Anti-choicers and Their Ridiculous Narratives

New Zealand is about to have a national conversation about abortion. Kiwis will need to keep their critical thinking faculties sharp to deal with anti-choicers’ bad faith arguments and ridiculous narratives.

The bad faith arguments usually take the form of trotting out debunked research as though it were reliable. I’ve talked about it before.

The narrative, however, goes something like this: women and children need to be protected from abortion.

Let’s take a few minutes and unpack that.

“Children”: when anti-choicers talk about children being harmed by abortion they mean to imply children are aborted. This is false – neither children nor babies are the subject of abortions, only zygotes, embryos, and foetuses. They use the word “children” to imply people are out there aborting five year olds.

“Abortion”: anti-choicers like to imply abortion is dangerous. It isn’t. Abortion has a very low complication rate. It is about 14 times safer than childbirth. Which is, you know, the only other alternative if you are pregnant.

“Protected”: this is a euphemism for “controlled”, meaning prevented by law from accessing health care anti-choicers don’t want you to access. Of course, that hasn’t worked too well for the past few hundred years. Experience has demonstrated again and again that pregnant people will take a chance on black market abortions if safe abortion care is no longer legal. The best way to protect people from unsafe, illegal abortions is to make abortion legal and easy to access. But you never see anti-choicers talk about protecting women from the inevitable effects of the abortion laws they want.

“Women”: this narrative frame presents abortion as something that happens without their consent, like a mugging. It conveniently ignores the reality that abortion is something women seek out, and will go to great lengths to access. It assumes women are not too bright, little more than children, not competent enough to govern themselves, likely to fall prey to … I dunno, evil abortion doctors? Like DHBs are out there trying to lure unwary pregnant women into their abortion services?

It would be a good critical thinking discipline to run anti-choice narratives through a kind of bullshit meter. All you need to do is examine their implications logically and realistically, with the common sense of a five year old child.

That is the proper use for imaginary five year olds.

ALRANZ Welcomes Promise of Law Reform Under Labour

ALRANZ welcomes the announcement this afternoon of a Labour-led coalition forming the next government. During the campaign, Labour leader, now Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern pledged to decriminalise abortion in New Zealand, saying pregnant people should have access to abortion as a matter of right.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak said abortion law reform has been a long time coming.

“Pregnant people in New Zealand have suffered under our ridiculous abortion bureaucracy for too long. After forty years of scrambling to get the approval of certifying consultants, and being forced to lie about the fragility of their mental health so they can access the medical care they need, finally Kiwis can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Abortion is a safe medical procedure that one in four Kiwi women access at some point in their reproductive lives. Abortion is health care. It has never belonged in the Crimes Act. We look forward to the coming discussion on reforming the law.

“It is vital Parliament carries out the task of abortion law reform in a manner that is evidence-based and patient-focused.”

Under New Zealand’s abortion laws, two certifying consultants must approve every abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act. Those grounds do not include rape, nor the most common reasons cited overseas: contraception failure and the inability to support a child.

Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.

People Will Talk

People Will Talk

Harvey Weinstein and his vaunted career are foundering under the weight of one simple fact: people will talk. His disgusting behaviour was an open secret in Hollywood for years.

It seems New Zealand’s abortion bureaucracy has come to a similar pass.

For many years, abortion seekers have been abused by a system that denies them the right to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives, forces them to lie and run around from pillar to post getting a long list of pointless boxes ticked in order to get the approval of two random strangers to get the health care they need. At the end of the process, people just wanted to forget about it.

But now, people are starting to speak out about how the abortion bureaucracy has treated them. Over the past year, women have spoken out about judgmental doctors who lectured them about ‘woman’s true calling’, rude pharmacy clerks who slut-shamed them for asking for Plan B, and creepy old men who are allowed to lurk outside abortion services with grisly pictures and foetus dolls.

Moreover, women are speaking out about the abortions they were refused, exploding the fantasy that New Zealand’s abortion bureaucracy amounts to abortion on request.

In the past few weeks, the Waitemata DHB has seen its policies around abortion repeatedly exposed in the Wireless and the NZ Herald. The WDHB has refused to allow patients to meet with certifying consultants, even though the patients were within the legal time limits for consideration. This amounts to refusing them an abortion. Their stated policy is to suggest these women travel to Australia at their own expense, if they don’t want to be mothers yet.

But now, we know about it. That’s the first step to doing something about it.

Old stigmas are breaking down. Good.

Waitemata DHB Refuses Second Woman’s Abortion

The NZ Herald has revealed the Waitemata DHB refused another pregnant woman an abortion at 18 weeks, suggesting she travel to Australia for an abortion at her own expense instead. This is the second time the Waitemata DHB has refused an abortion without allowing the patient to meet with certifying consultants in the last 12 weeks.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak questioned whether the DHB was meeting acceptable standards for natural justice.

“Apparently, the DHB decided Erica was not eligible for an abortion without her meeting with or even speaking to any certifying consultants. Nor did the DHB make any inquiries into her mental health. I question whether the DHB has met its duty of care to Erica,” she remarked.

“This is the second instance we have learned of in past weeks where the Waitemata DHB has refused an abortion to a pregnant woman with valid claims of mental distress from an unwanted pregnancy. Both Erica and Kate, the woman whose story was told in the Wireless on 18 September 2017, may well have satisfied the criteria for an abortion under 20 weeks gestation under the mental health ground. But apparently the DHB never gave them a chance to put their case.

“ALRANZ wrote to the Abortion Supervisory Committee on 3 October 2017, in response to Kate’s case, requesting clarification on whether the Waitemata DHB’s policy around abortion meets standards of natural justice. The ASC has a responsibility to supervise the provision of abortion in New Zealand. ALRANZ would like to know whether the ASC is satisfied with the Waitemata DHB’s process for determining whether people are eligible for abortion care. The DHB is making decisions that will affect people’s lives forever.”

Under New Zealand’s abortion laws, two certifying consultants must approve every abortion under a narrow set of grounds set out in the Crimes Act. Those grounds do not include rape, nor the most common reasons cited overseas: contraception failure and the inability to support a child.

Poll results show a majority of New Zealanders support the right to access abortion on request.


The Definition of Mental Health

The Definition of Mental Health

In correspondence with Dr Helen Paterson, the Abortion Supervisory Committee did New Zealand a service by clarifying the meaning of ‘mental health’ in the context of determining eligibility for a termination of pregnancy under s 187A of the Crimes Act 1961.

The Crimes Act s 187A (1)(a) sets out the first ground for approving an abortion as:

continuance of the pregnancy would result in serious danger (not being danger normally attendant upon childbirth) to the life, or to the physical or mental health, of the woman or girl

In a letter dated 3 August 2017, the committee said, “the ASC is comfortable with certifying consultants’ adoption of the definition of mental health developed by the World Health Organisation.”

The WHO defines mental health in this way:

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

This definition of mental health is quite wide, and brings most patients seeking abortion into its ambit. Pregnant people seeking abortion should keep this definition in mind should their requests for termination of pregnancy be denied.

It seems likely “Kate” met this definition when she was denied an abortion at 18 weeks the abortion service at the Waitemata DHB.