Pro-lifers accused of bullying clinic staff
Should doctors performing abortions at Southland Hospital be identified?
An abortion rights advocate believes Southland Hospital staff performing abortions at the newly opened clinic are being intimidated by "bullying tactics" from a pro-life group.
However, the chairman of Southlanders for Life disagreed and said the group would continue to find ways to stop the abortion services from continuing.
Southland Hospital applied for a licence to perform abortions in April. The service began early last month.
Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand executive committee member Alison McCulloch said the claim by Southlanders for Life, reported by Fairfax yesterday, that they would "name and shame" medical staff who performed abortions was a dangerous bullying tactic.
She called on Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, who pro-lifers name as a supporter, to say whether he backed the naming of doctors who performed the service.
Mr English did not return phone calls yesterday.
Ms McCulloch said she was contacted by an individual who told her pro-choice people in Southland feared public backlash for speaking out.
While she was in Southland she was told staff at the hospital were also facing intimidation.
Southlanders for Life chairman Norman MacLean said last night the group had "no intention" of stepping back now the service had begun and would continue to find ways to stop abortions being performed.
He had personally asked for the names of doctors and nurses doing abortions at Southland Hospital, he said.
The group "would then consider what we would do with that information".
"Why is it that these people will not be named? It is not a private company and they are providing a public service. In every other area of the hospital they would name [the doctors]. The public should be aware of what is funded by the taxpayer."
Yesterday, Southland Hospital spokeswoman Stacy Belser said the number of abortions performed since the clinic began had not been correlated and she was uncertain whether the number would be released to the public even if it had been.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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