Concern raised over abortion
About 200 people attended a public meeting last night organised by the "Southlanders For Life" group to discuss the planned abortion service at Southland Hospital – but Southern District Health Board members were conspicuous by their absence.
Southland Hospital is expected to be doing abortions from July.
The Southern District Health Board currently provides the service at Dunedin Hospital, but chief medical officer David Tulloch said in May that abortions would be provided closer to home as part of the expansion of clinical services at Southland Hospital.
Dr Norman Maclean, a former Southland Hospital obstetrician and the current chairman of Southlanders for Life group, said last night's public meeting at the Ascot Park Hotel was for people to listen to health board members and so they could understand the reasoning behind the abortion proposal. He was "very disappointed" no-one from the health board fronted at the meeting. They had been invited.
The Southlanders For Life Group was an "anti-liberal abortion group", he said.
"We are anti a service which will provide abortion on request." Despite the law saying a termination could only be granted if the pregnancy posed a serious health risk to the mother, many certifying consultants in New Zealand approved all women who requested an abortion, Dr Maclean said.
"Some certifying consultants interpret the law extremely liberally, and that's the problem – the law that we operate under was introduced to increase the protection of the unborn child, but it has failed to do so dramatically." He accepted there were cases in which abortions were necessary, "but not the 16,000 a year as is the case in New Zealand".
He believed the number of abortions would increase in the south if the service was provided at Southland Hospital.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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