Health website 'not sinister'

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 09:37 21/08/2014

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An online database listing health professionals who are reportedly opposed to prescribing contraception or abortions is not sinister, the chief executive of Marlborough Primary Health Organisation says.

The My Decision website launched on Sunday lists 28 doctors, nurses, pharmacies and counsellors who object for moral or religious reasons to contraception or abortions .

Former Wairau Community Clinic GP Joseph Lee is on the list. Dr Lee, a devout Catholic, angered pro-choice campaigners when it was revealed last year he had refused to prescribe the contraceptive pill to a 23-year-old woman.

PHO boss Beth Tester said Dr Lee no longer worked in Marlborough.

She did not mind the database. "It is not that sinister. Any doctor in Marlborough that doesn't prescribe oral contraceptives has a notice saying so in their practice. This website database is no different."

People seeking services like contraception or abortion are invited to report any experiences of hostile or unhelpful health professionals to the website. My Decision spokesperson Terry Bellamak said organisers were also inviting doctors and others who "conscientiously object" to some services to list what options they do and do not offer.

"From the standpoint of consumer protection, it makes no sense to keep potential patients in the dark about their health care providers' intentions," Bellamak said. "Conscientious objectors who agree can demonstrate their good faith by registering on our site."

Bellamak said there have been several worrying cases, including Dr Lee's case.

New Zealand Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond said she supported the database. "We support that it is useful information for women to know and it is useful for GPs to make clear their position on contraception and abortion."

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- The Marlborough Express

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