ALRANZ Congratulates Argentina

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa congratulates the people of Argentina for a successful conclusion to their fight for legal abortion.

Abortion will be legal in Argentina up to 14 weeks gestation. Argentina is now the most populous nation in Latin America to legalise abortion, standing with Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and some parts of Mexico.

“We are delighted that 2020 has been a good year for reproductive rights in Argentina as well as here in New Zealand,” said ALRANZ President Terry Bellamak, referring to New Zealand’s legalisation of abortion in March.

“We hope the success of reproductive rights activists in Argentina acts as a catalyst for other countries in Latin America to recognise the bodily autonomy of all citizens. It will undoubtedly inspire activists all over the region.

“Since 1983 more than 3000 people have died from unsafe, illegal abortions in Argentina. In 2016 alone, almost 40,000 were hospitalised due to complications from unsafe, illegal abortions. 6000 of them were under 20 years old. Argentina’s government has finally acknowledged the reality that the law can only prohibit safe abortions – people will always seek abortions, safe or unsafe, for their own good reasons.”

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

Abortion Care: Equity Not Improving Fast Enough

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa notes with disappointment that the Ministry of Health survey shows improvements to abortion care have not reached all DHBs.

While delays for early medical and surgical abortions have shortened in some DHBs, others still do not offer abortion care at all. Different DHBs do not provide medical abortions, or telemedicine, or abortions post 20 weeks gestation.

“It’s particularly concerning that DHBs that do not provide a service also do not fund their catchment for telemedicine abortion care,” said Terry Bellamak, ALRANZ president.

“The Ministry needs to provide training opportunities for GPs, nurse practitioners, and midwives, and establish workable standards for abortion care outside hospital settings, if they want to improve access across the country. Funding needs to follow the patient, as it does for primary maternity care, rather than get routed through DHB system.

“Providers also need assurance that they and their patients can stay safe from people trying to prevent them from providing or accessing care, by establishing safe areas around places where abortion is provided,” she added.

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

ALRANZ Denounces US Senate Confirmation of Judge Barrett

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa denounces the US Senate’s confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court seat formerly held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

“This action demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of the once-respected upper chamber of the US Congress. In the last year of President Obama’s term, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold confirmation hearings on Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court so close to an election. Now the Republican-controlled Senate has rushed through hasty confirmation of Trump’s nominee in the final weeks before the election. Their actions make a mockery of what was once held to be one of the premier deliberative bodies in the world,” said ALRANZ president Terry Bellamak.

Judge Barrett’s fringe conservative views are expected to lead to the overturning of US Supreme Court precedents around human rights, civil rights, reproductive rights, voting rights, separation of church and state, and control over corporations.

“This is a sad day for the people of the USA. We fear many more people may soon be forced to become parents against their will, or seek abortions outside the health care system at the risk of prosecution. We hope Americans turn out to vote – to mitigate the effects of this ugly, hypocritical confirmation,” said Bellamak.

“At this point, Justice Roberts is presiding over a Supreme Court that may be losing not only its respect and persuasiveness in other jurisdictions, but even its legitimacy in the eyes of Americans.”

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

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.