Refusal to Provide Contraception Stigmatises Users

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa sadly welcomes the results of Family Planning’s survey of contraception users, which shows 5% experience health practitioners obstructing their access to contraception.

“It’s maddening that in 2020 people still have to deal with the judgmental attitudes of some busybodies in lab coats,” said ALRANZ president Terry Bellamak. “Family Planning has done a real service by quantifying the problem of stigmatising contraception.”

The report said some Kiwis whose GPs obstruct access to contraception also made remarks that showed they “clearly disapproved of my choice, and not only offered me no help, but asked me very inappropriate questions, and made me feel disgusting.”

 “I question whether GPs who feel entitled to pass judgment on their patients’ sexual morality when requested to supply safe, legal health care belong in the profession. People go to their GP for health care, not moral instruction,” said Bellamak.

ALRANZ calls on the government to amend the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 to adequately deal with conscientious obstruction.

She went on: “The Abortion Legislation Bill sought to improve the lot of patients with scolds for doctors by requiring them to give their patients details on the closest places to access the care they refused to provide. But the law can’t make them treat their patients decently.

“Such GPs’ actions make no logical or scientific sense. If they also disapprove of abortion, they should be facilitating access to the one thing that is proven to lower the abortion rate.”

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

ALRANZ Deplores National MPs’ Abortion Myths

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa deplores the statements of National MPs Harete Hipango and Simon O’Conner on Facebook, alleging New Zealand’s reformed abortion legislation allows full term babies to be aborted.

“What they are saying is wrong on so many levels,” said ALRANZ president Terry Bellamak. “In the first place, abortion is about embryos and foetuses, never babies.

“In the second place, the old legislation also allowed abortions after 20 weeks. But here’s the important thing: a pregnancy that lasts for 20 weeks or more is a wanted pregnancy. If that pregnancy has to end in abortion, it’s because the pregnant person’s health is in danger, or the foetus has a fatal anomaly.

“If the foetus is viable, the health care team waits as long as possible to give it the best chance of survival before inducing labour. When a foetus proceeds from the uterus in a living state, that is called ‘birth’.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, when asked for comment on Hipango’s post, gently suggested it would be better if MPs based their views on facts.

Justice Minister Andrew Little was blunter, calling Hipango’s comments “silly.”

He added, “If Judith Collins is happy to have a bunch of radical, anti-abortion extremists running the show on social media, that’s a matter for her.”

Bellamak concluded, “This kind of scaremongering insults the intelligence of everyone they expect it would work on.”

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

Final Abortion Statistics from Stats NZ

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa welcomes Stats NZ’s final report on abortion statistics, for the year ending December 2019. In future this data will be collected and presented by the Ministry of Health, in keeping with the recognition that abortion care is a health matter.

The statistics show the number of abortions is down slightly over 2018, to 12,857 from 13,282 in 2018.

Although the majority of people receiving abortion care are in their twenties, there was a slight uptick in the percentage for people in their thirties. The decline continued in abortions for those under 20.

Just over 64% of abortions occurred before the 10th week of pregnancy.

“We hope next year’s statistics show an even greater trend toward early abortions, as the new law’s effect is felt,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“During the Covid-19 lockdown, the New Zealand Health System very sensibly moved toward offering telemedicine care for early medical abortions, which allows for even less red tape, and eliminates travel for abortion care. It will be interesting to see these changes reflected in next year’s statistics from the Ministry of Health.”

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

Telemedicine Abortion Care Comes to New Zealand

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa congratulates the Ministry of Health for offering telemedicine abortion care for early medical abortions to same patients during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“The Ministry of Health has designated abortion care as an essential service, and fair enough. Abortion care is time sensitive. Abortions are very safe, with less chance of complications than getting your wisdom teeth removed. But the earlier you access care, the safer it is,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ National president.

“Telemedicine has been used for seven years in Iowa, and has proven safe and effective, with complications occurring in less than 0.5% of early medical abortions provided that way.

“Health practitioners are able to provide all relevant advice, offer counselling, and obtain informed consent over the phone, and courier the pills to the patient. This allows the patient to stay within their bubble. For people who live in remote areas, it saves them a long trip by car.”

Before the law changed, early medical abortions required two trips to the clinic to take the two medicines, taken 24 – 48 hours apart on clinic premises. The most dangerous part of the abortion was literally driving to and from the clinic.

“If people need abortion care, they should ring their DHB. DHBs have a responsibility to ensure patients in their catchment area are able to receive the services they need, even if the DHB does not provide them. In those cases, the DHB may organise care with another DHB.”

New Zealand reformed its abortion laws last month. Abortion is now available without restrictions up to 20 weeks. ALRANZ and others fought for abortion law reform for over 40 years.

 

ALRANZ Presents Open Letter to Parliament

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa will deliver an open letter to Parliament to MPs at 1pm today, Thursday 12 March 2020, on Parliament’s forecourt.

The letter acknowledges the Abortion Legislation Bill is not perfect, but is still an improvement on the status quo.

ALRANZ’s open letter has garnered over 1500 signatures in total. The letter and signatures can be viewed here. Signatories include Michele A’Court, Wellington City Council members Rebecca Matthews and Tamatha Paul, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, and others.

 “The days when pregnant people have to lie about their mental health to get the health care they need must come to an end,” said Terry Bellamak, National president of ALRANZ.

“Even without safe areas, this bill promises to reduce delays and make abortion care more accessible everywhere. The current system is a postcode lottery, with people in the main centres enjoying almost reasonable access and people in the provinces suffering delays, trouble, and expense.

“This situation has continued for over 40 years. It has to stop.”

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act. 

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion. Under New Zealand’s current 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.

 

ALRANZ Salutes Second Reading Passage of Abortion Bill

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa salutes the New Zealand Parliament’s passing of the Abortion Legislation Bill at second reading, 81 to 39. 

“We are really pleased the margin was so large,” said ALRANZ National president Terry Bellamak.

“The support the bill is receiving in Parliament reflects its support among New Zealanders in general. Polls have consistently shows support for abortion for any reason above 65%.

“Reproductive rights are mainstream, as Dame Margaret Sparrow’s winning Senior New Zealander of the Year demonstrates. Our nation is ready to finally bring our abortion laws into the 21st century.”

Jan Logie’s speech in favour of the bill was interrupted by an anti-abortion heckler. Parliamentary security ejected the offender while Logie pointed out he had unintentionally provided evidence of anti-abortion harassment and the need for safe areas, a point reinforced by the attack on Green Party co-leader James Shaw by an abortion opponent last year.

“Ruth Dyson’s speech was really inspiring. She engaged in some radical truth telling in her speech when she called out Sir Bill English for making false accusations of doctors gruesomely killing babies in abortions at later gestations, a claim Dame Margaret Sparrow characterised as scaremongering,” Bellamak noted.

“It was a night to be proud of our Parliament.”

See ALRANZ’s analysis of the post-select committee bill here: http://alranz.org/the-abortion-legislation-select-committee-reports-back-bismarck-vindicated/

In New Zealand, abortion is still in the Crimes Act. 

ALRANZ wants to reform New Zealand’s laws around abortion. Under New Zealand’s current 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.