Doctor threatens resignation over abortions

22:24, Aug 03 2012
Dr Vili Sotutu
RESIGNATION RETRACTED: Dr Vili Sotutu.

A senior paediatrician who put in his letter of resignation in response to abortion services being offered at Southland Hospital has retracted the letter on the promise that negotiations to reduce abortions will continue.

Dr Vili Sotutu, who has been employed with the Southern District Health Board for four years, declined to speak with The Southland Times yesterday.

However his wife, Ray Sotutu, confirmed Dr Sotutu put in his resignation last Thursday, but said his resignation had not been accepted.

Last night, Mrs Sotutu said that after a 5pm meeting with management, her husband had retracted his resignation on the basis that the hospital work to help reduce the number of abortions performed.

Mrs Sotutu, who is the rugby administrator at James Hargest College, said that she "absolutely" supported her husband's decision, even if it had meant leaving Invercargill.

She understood other doctors at Southland Hospital did not want to perform abortions, but none had put in a letter of resignation, she said.

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The couple were "very much" pro-life and she said the health board's lack of consultation with the community over abortion services since it applied for a licence to perform abortions was disturbing.

"This was the greatest way for him to express his profound concern."

Health board management had asked him to reconsider, emphasising his value to the health board, she said. Her husband would meet with management on Monday to discuss how the number of abortions could be reduced.

CATHOLICS URGED TO FIGHT PLANS

A Catholic bishop in Dunedin has called on other Catholics to fight plans to provide abortions at Southland Hospital.

Bishop Colin Campbell, in a letter sent to media, said Catholic opposition to abortion was well-known. "As a family of faith we are opposed to all abortion and we must do all we can to prevent this culture of death spreading in our country."

The pleas of many concerned people on the issue had gone unheeded, the letter said.

"In spite of the good work of Southlanders for Life, Voice for Life and many concerned in raising their voices in opposition, the management at Southland Hospital still appear to be pursuing this option."

He called on other Catholics to "raise our voices in the private and public arena and in our wider community".

Yesterday, Southland chief medical officer David Tulloch said in a statement the service would ensure that women having terminations had adequate access to the procedure in their own area.

Abortions were provided by district health boards throughout New Zealand, he said.

The number of procedures would depend on referral numbers from general practitioners.

"The board had a discussion around the process undertaken by management and clinicians to initiate termination of pregnancy services at Southland Hospital and determined it was collectively satisfied that the DHB had followed the correct process."

The Southland Times