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.