No Right Turn posted yesterday some links on the abortion law issue. He chided The Standard for (at the time) not having posted on the issue, and if he allowed comments I was going to suggest it was because they hadn’t found a way to blame John Key for it yet!
The Standard now do have a guest post by Julie Fairey with the title “If you’re against abortion, then kindly don’t have one”. Very true. If only they would apply the same logic to Easter trading – if you’re against it then kindly don’t shop on Good Friday!
A story in The Press yesterday demonstrated to me the gap between our laws, and our practice. To quote:
Christchurch GP Pippa MacKay, who performs abortions at Lyndhurst Hospital, said women needed access to safe abortions.
“For as long as people have been having sex, there have been abortions,” she said. “Unplanned pregnancies won’t go away because abortion is illegal. That would be putting women’s lives at risk.”
MacKay said she was disturbed by the implication that she and other doctors were not operating within the law. “As far as I’m concerned, I apply the law. If someone says to me they will suffer depression if they have a child, then I accept that.”
Now Dr MacKay has honestly explained how almost all doctors interpret the law. They ask the woman wehther having the pregnancy would cause them depression, the woman says “Oh yes it will” and the doctor says “Okay”.
Now it really is a farce. I mean it is hardly utilising 10+ years of medical training to just ask someone if hypothetically they would be depressed and use an affirmative response to judge them at “serious mental risk”. A receptionist could do the same, or even an online form.
I don’t mean this is any way as a criticism of Dr MacKay (who is a very respected practitioner) – it just shows how much of a gap there is between the law and how it is operated.
We have de facto abortion on demand in NZ, and have had so for some decades. The thought of forcing a woman to continue with a pregnancy against her will is repugnant to me. So why continue with the charade of requiring two doctors to certify if someone “qualifies” for an abortion if we know all they do is ask “Would having an unwanted baby depress you”.
While an update of our abortion laws might be a painful experience to go through, I have little doubt the vast majority of NZers would support and vote for abortion to be safe and legal on demand. I would also hope one could look at how to reduce the level of abortions through education and counselling as there is a difference between being pro-choice and pro-abortion.
In my experience with abortion debates, no-one who is pro-choice or pro-life is open to persuasion to change their views. WIth that in mind could I suggest that comments might more usefully be focused on the pros and cons of having a law change.