22 Nov 2009

Surgeon supports family clinic move over abortion pill

7:45 am on 22 November 2009

An abortion surgeon believes some women might benefit from receiving the abortion pill at a Family Planning clinic.

The clinic in Hamilton has sought approval from the Abortion Supervisory Committee and, if approved, would be the first of its kind in New Zealand to offer the pill to women.

At present, the abortion pill is only available in New Zealand in clinics that perform abortions.

Christchurch surgeon and GP Pippa MacKay says she supports the family planning clinic dispensing the abortion pill - so long as it is done in accordance with the law and women receive counselling.

"As long as it fits within the law, and that women using it are adequately counselled and understand what's going to happen and have got good support, I don't think that there should be anything wrong with it.

"The abortion pill is a simple, effective way of having an abortion. For some women it's a choice they want to make, and they can do it at home with people around them to support them."

Catholic bishops opposed

Catholic bishops in New Zealand say they plan to write to the committee opposing the clinic's application, due to the risks to women and the Church's fundamental opposition to abortion.

Father Michael McCabe, director of the bishops' bioethics agency The Nathaniel Centre, says the family planning centre would effectively become an abortion clinic.

"To make abortion even more available and to equate it with other means of family planning we believe in the Church that's a very backward step for New Zealand to take, and it certainly won't reduce the number of abortions."

The bishops say they are also concerned by the potential for the pill to be given to girls under the age of 16 without parental approval.

Father McCabe says that prospect is at odds with other areas of the law, where parents can be held responsible for their children's actions and medical care.

He says there are a number of side-effects from the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol and believes women will abort unsupervised at home.

The Family Planning Association has been unavailable for comment.