Re: Consent Form – Abortion
Thank you for your letter of 4 June 2009 on the issues of ultrasound scans and the consent form for an abortion. Thank you also for your advice that we should take up the issue of an amendment to the consent form for abortions with the Abortion Supervisory Committee. On the 26 May 2009 our Society wrote to the Committee providing them with a copy of your letter. We requested that they give consideration to supporting the suggested amendment and write to all the District Health Boards [DHBs] requesting that they amend their consent form for abortion. In their letter of 8 July the Committee declined to take action.
Our Society has recently written to District Health Boards that provide abortions requesting that they give consideration to amending the consent form to ask the question; were you offered the opportunity to view your ultrasound scan? The Hawks Bay DHB advised that their consent form already included this question. The Otago DHB advised that their multi termination of pregnancy team had discussed our letter at their monthly meeting and agreed that it would be useful to amend their consent for abortion form to incorporate a box to confirm that every woman has been given this opportunity. The Dunedin hospital is in the process of implementing a new patient management / data collection system. The Chief Executive advises that when this system is fully implemented they will look at incorporating this change into their consent process.
Our Society believes that it would be in the best interests of women considering an abortion for the consent form to be amended to ensure that women are fully informed and have given informed consent. It is understood that it is normal practice to require women considering an abortion to have an ultrasound scan. We are pleased that you support these women being offered the opportunity to view a scan of their baby. We are disappointed that the Committee is not prepared to support a request to DHBs to amend the relevant consent form.
We believe that it would be in the interest of women to have national conformity with the consent form for abortion, modelled on the consent form of the Hawkes Bay DHB.
We would be grateful if you would advise our Society what action can now be taken to achieve this important objective.