In light of the current confusion over so-called “conscientious objection”, under which an anti-abortion doctor now, apparently, has the right to show a patient seeking an abortion the door without adhering to best practice guidelines and arranging for her case to be dealt with, we thought it might be instructive to see what it means to add yet another obstacle to the abortion obstacle course by showing you a lovely flow chart of the abortion approval process in New Zealand.

Remember, the law on medical professionals not having to participate in an abortion is clear and unequivocal. What the anti-choice professionals wanted — and gained some ground on in their recent court case (which you can read about here and here) — was to avoid having to follow best practice by ensuring their patient’s case is dealt with and she is referred on.

Actually, we’re seeking further clarification from the Medical Council on just what the recent court ruling means, but so far, no dice.

Anyway, flow charts are worth a thousand words. This one, which as you can see was obtained under the Official Information Act, is courtesy of a 2001 memorandum by the Ministry of Justice for the Cabinet and Health Committee on a Review of Abortion Laws. (There was a wee moment in there in which some good women in Cabinet were trying to do something about our laws…)

According to the accompanying document, what this means is that: “A woman might see up to five doctors before a decision on whether to approve her abortion is taken”. More doctors to actually have the abortion, of course! If you click on the image, it should enlarge so you can read the exciting text.


UPDATE: A reader alerted us to a four page flow chart of the abortion procedure process that was included in the Abortion Supervisory Committee’s 1995 Annual Report to Parliament. If you want to be even more confused, take a look. A pdf of the 1995 flow chart is here.