The Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) has decided Dr Helen Paterson can keep her appointment as a certifying consultant in spite of her pro-choice views on abortion.

In July, Dr Paterson informed the ASC she believed abortion should be a matter between a woman and her doctor. The Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 directs the ASC to regard such views as incompatible with the Act.

ALRANZ National President Terry Bellamak welcomed the ASC’s decision not to dismiss Dr Paterson.

“Certifying consultants have freedom of thought just like everyone else in New Zealand,” she said.

“The Bill of Rights Act guarantees everyone freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. The Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethical belief and political opinion. The ASC rightly recognised sacking a certifying consultant on those grounds would violate their human rights.

“Certifying consultants need no longer hide their views for fear of losing their appointments.”

Under our 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.