“Police nags should halt their moral tut-tutting about alcohol”. So read the title of Karl du Fresne’s column in the Dominion Post three weeks ago (17 January 2012). Buried underneath the main part of the column about police involvement in liquor licensing, du Fresne managed to sneak in a personal attack on Dr Gill Greer. As regular readers will likely be aware, Dr Greer was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the British New Year’s Honours List, for her work in the area of international health and women’s rights. Or, as du Fresne likes to put it, for being a “high priestess of sex education and abortion”. You can read the column in its full glory here. I think the fact that he quotes results from a Family First survey says almost all that needs to be said about it.

In response to the column, Dame Margaret Sparrow wrote a letter to the editor, which was not published. Dame Margaret kindly agreed to my reproducing her letter here:

Karl du Fresne (Dominion Post Tuesday 17 January) calls Dr Gill Greer a high priestess of sex education and abortion. This is inaccurate and insulting. She is a highly respected New Zealander who has achieved international recognition for her role at the helm of the London based International Planned Parenthood Federation. The statistics presented by du Fresne are also inaccurate. Take for example the figures on abortion. In the 2011 annual report of the Abortion Supervisory Committee it is stated that the total number of abortions performed in very young teenagers are small in comparison to other age groups and the figures are trending downwards.  Furthermore there is a noticeable downward trend in the under 20 year old range which is not replicated in the older age groups. It may well be that young persons are responding to educational efforts.

Dr Greer also responded to the column, highlighting the important work the International Planned Parenthood Federation do internationally.