DHB to listen to views on abortion

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2012

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The Southern District Health Board will hear the views of dissenters campaigning against plans to offer abortions at Southland Hospital at a meeting next month.

Several hundred people protested outside the Invercargill hospital on June 3 to voice their objection to the hospital applying for a licence to perform abortions as part of its expansion of clinical services.

A meeting against the proposal was held on June 14 and more than 200 attended. Board members were invited but did not attend.

Board deputy chairman Paul Menzies said it was Government policy to provide health services closer to people's homes and the board was required to carry out its policy.

"The board is on the periphery of this decision," he said.

"It is an operational, clinical issue. We don't make decisions about heart treatment or gallstones or any of that sort of stuff (for example)."

He said the anti-abortion lobby in Southland had a right to make its feelings known.

"I understand people's feelings about this are heartfelt and they are sincere in their wishes, and here they are doing it in a pretty measured and respectful way."

The board would receive, acknowledge and consider their comments, he said.

"People say we are there to represent the community but the legislation is quite clear we are representatives on behalf of the health minister ... we are required to take into account any aspect of healthcare delivery."

Southlanders for Life spokesman Father Vaughan Leslie said the group would make a presentation to the board at its meeting on July 5.

The board was required to consult with the public if a new or controversial service was to be extended, he said.

"We are inviting as many Southlanders to attend as want to do so."

Father Leslie said the board had been left out in the cold by the hospital's decision to offer abortions. Some hospital staff were also unhappy with the decision, he said.

alex.fensome@stl.co.nz

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