Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand
29 September 2015 Media Release
NZ NEEDS TELEMEDICINE ABORTION SERVICE
A breakthrough telemedicine abortion service in Australia that will help cut abortion wait times and improve access should be replicated in New Zealand, but is precluded by our outdated criminalised abortion laws, the Abortion Law Reform Association said today.
“This is precisely the kind of service that New Zealand women need, given our poor statistics on access to early abortion, but it’s also precisely the kind of service denied us by our 38-year-old abortion laws,” ALRANZ President Terry Bellamak said.
The Australian initiative, offered by medical abortion provider the Tabbot Foundation, will assess people seeking abortion over the phone, and post them the medications they need. We’re strongly supportive of this kind of initiative, Ms. Bellamak said, although it’s disappointing it won’t be available in all states, and may be unaffordable for some women.
Ms. Bellamak said New Zealand has a poor record when it comes to providing abortions as early as possible, as well as in providing early medication abortion.
“New Zealand law, which criminalises abortion, mandates a convoluted approval procedure that delays access,” she said. “And because it was written nearly 40 years ago, before medical abortions were possible, it forces women to travel to a clinic or hospital to take the abortion medication,” she said.
“It’s deeply irresponsible of Parliament to fail to fix a law that is directly preventing patients from receiving the latest and best medical care,” she said.
Local initiatives here, like the 0800-Abortion service set up this year to smooth the referral process for abortion in New Zealand, are a great start, Ms. Bellamak said. A full telemedicine service would be the next best step.
Latest figures show only 39 percent of abortions performed in New Zealand in 2014 took place before the 9th week of pregnancy compared with 69 percent in Scotland. Meanwhile, early medication abortions make up around 10 percent of all abortions in New Zealand, compared with 51 percent in England and Wales.
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