Voice for Life Commentary on Abortion Process

ALRANZ (Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand) recently released their version of a diagram of NZ’s abortion process. They claim that a woman has to jump through a 12-step process to have an abortion.

Voice for Life comments on the abortion process below:


The diagram looks complicated because abortion-rights advocates claim that the woman has to “jump through hoops”.

An experienced senior nurse now retired, works part-time in a large medical practice.

Here is how she describes the process:

“The woman makes an appointment to see one of our GPs, so as to be referred for an abortion.

The GP sees her and then completes a Termination of Pregnancy form, which is faxed through to the nearest day surgery unit, where the abortion is to be done.

I am not sure if the unit rings the woman to make an appointment, or if she contacts the unit; but the process is as easy as that.

I don’t know when any so-called counselling takes place, I presume it may happen at the clinic or unit.”


What a pregnancy counsellor with 30 years-experience discovered, and sent her comments to the Abortion Supervisory Committee in 2010 (she heard nothing more)

She is telling the Abortion Supervisory Committee what post-abortive clients told her and fellow counsellors about seeing two Certified Consultants, who have to approve the abortion:

“The second consultant seemed to be the person gowned, gloved and ready to perform the procedure, but they don’t recall meeting that doctor beforehand, or having any discussion with him or her.

“Others have said that there was only one doctor on duty at the clinic, so the second consultant was accessed by phone for his or her approval.

This must mean that the case is outlined to the second consultant and the forms are signed off by fax or email that day, or when the doctor is next on duty.

However, our major concern as counsellors is for the process leading up to the first approval, rather than with the second one.

In our experience, most GPs do not make a full assessment of the woman’s physical or mental health and the impact of both pregnancy and abortion on her future health.

They simply respond to her request for a referral.

They will talk with her about any medication she is on that poses a risk to the developing foetus, but will not usually discuss other issues raised by her pregnancy.

Most doctors have neither the time, nor the inclination. There is also an assumption that women will receive full counselling at the abortion facility.

You (the Abortion Supervisory Committee) say ‘women are offered decision counselling’ but sadly, time and time again we hear women reveal that once they arrive at an abortion clinic, they feel they are expected be strong and resolute – and they conceal any ambivalence.

Sometimes counselling is offered in a negative way that implies it is only for the weak, i.e. ‘You don’t need counselling do you?’

Those who are visible distressed, or admit they haven’t made up their minds, or expressly ask for counselling, seem to be the only ones who access it.

We have heard that the counselling in some facilities has improved, but we are concerned that too often in the past, it has been simply a preparation for abortion without a truly open-ended discussion of the patient’s situation, beliefs, issues and possible solutions.

She is not made aware of alternative courses of action, nor of support available from family or the community. We realise that no one can be forced into counselling, but we would like to see patients being encouraged more actively to access counselling, in or beyond abortion facilities.

We have observed, first hand, harmful effects to women’s mental health, as described in Professor David Fergusson’s Canterbury study.

Most hospitals or clinics try to allow abut one week between appointments, it seems, so that a patient has time to consider her future course. However, unless she has skilled counselling about all her options and how to cope with an unplanned pregnancy, a difficult relationship, financial problems or whatever, she will continue to think that abortion is her only choice”.

Voice for Life comments

What you have read here is the collective experience of women who have suffered from their abortions and sought help. They intuitively never go to the designers of the diagram, or those who want abortion to be without guilt or stigma. They seek empathy and a listening ear from those who acknowledge their pain.

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