7 May 2009

Ruling on right to see scan before abortion

9:12 pm on 7 May 2009

Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson has ruled that women should be offered the opportunity to view a scan of their foetus before having an abortion.

The move follows a complaint to the commission criticising four district health boards that were not informing women that they could see their scans.

Following its survey of 13 DHBs, the group Right to Life complained to Mr Paterson that women could not give informed consent for an abortion without being told they could see their scans.

The group's spokesperson, Ken Orr, says the Waikato DHB refused to offer women the opportunity to see the scan, claiming it would infringe patients' rights.

The DHB has since reversed its decision.

Mr Paterson says patients should have the right to see all test results.

Right to Life wants a question to be added to abortion consent forms asking patients if they have been told by a medical practitioner that they can see their scan.

President of the Abortion Law Reform Association Margaret Sparrow says including such a question in abortion consent forms would intimidate patients.

However, Mr Orr says he would not support forcing women to see their scans.