Blenheim woman refused contraceptive pill

Last updated 13:35 14/07/2013

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Blenheim woman Melissa Pont thought her doctor was "joking" when he refused to give the contraceptive pill.

Pont, 23, had recently moved to Blenheim with her fiance, Callum Alexander, and went to see Dr Joseph Lee at the Wairau Community Clinic to renew her prescription of the contraceptive pill. 

"I went in and all I needed was a repeat of the pill and he said he would not give me a prescription because he was 'pro-life'," Pont told The Press today.

"I thought he was joking. It didn't seem real that he would not give it to me. I started getting quite annoyed, especially as I had just waited an hour in reception."

Lee recommended Pont use the "rhythm" contraceptive method, an un-reliable method of using a calender and not having sex on "fertile" days.

"It was not an option I was keen on at all. It was ridiculous in this modern day."

Pont said Lee questioned her on why she would not have children. 

"I said I'd just bought a house and was not ready to have children but that I was in a committed relationship. It's my choice when to have children. He looked disgusted by my response."

Pont had visited another doctor for her prescription, but said she was "concerned" that Lee would be acting in this way.

"If I was an impressionable young 16-year-old and had been too timid I might have just left and never got proper contraception," she said.

"It's worrying that he can tell people this."

Pont said Lee did not inform her she could see another doctor to have her prescription filled.

"He gave me no options. It was like he did not care."

The Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) has issues a statement saying it is "alarmed" at Lee's actions.

National president Dr Morgan Healey said health professionals had the legal right  to object to certain treatments, but said current guidelines were not clear enough to protect patients' health care and rights.

The Medical Council of New Zealand's Good Practice guidelines stipulate that a doctor with a conscientious objection must inform their patients that they have a right to see another doctor.

However, Healey said it did not go far enough.

 "There is no requirement that the doctor with a conscientious objection must provide a referral to another doctor or assist the patient in finding care elsewhere"

Healey also encouraged Pont to seek redress with the Health and Disability Commissioner. 

"What happened to her should not be allowed to happen to other people seeking reproductive health-care, and we congratulate her on publicising her experience in hopes that others will be aware of their rights," she said.

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Lee, a Catholic father of two, could not be reached by The Press today for comment, but he told the Herald On Sunday that he did not "want to interfere with the process of producing life."

He said that a teen pregnancy may be a girl's "destiny".

Pont said Lee's response was "bizzare".

- The Press

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